A new animal control contract that decreases the hours of animal patrol from 10 to three hours per week has been renewed between the city of Blaine and the Whatcom Humane Society for the next five years.
The contract renewed during the January 13 city council meeting is an extension of a contract that was signed in 2018. The contract was for a one-year trial in 2019. After being renewed by the parties last month, the contract contains no major changes besides the reduction in patrol hours.
The city’s annual cost for the new contract is $7,500, as opposed to the $15,000 it was spending previously. The annual cost will be reviewed at each budget cycle, according to the contract.
Patrol hours are separate from animal control, where Whatcom County residents can report concerns about animals in dangerous situations 24 hours per day every day to the humane society, said Laura Clark, the executive director of the humane society. The contract is based on budget decisions and the number of stray animals hasn’t decreased, she said.
Animal control calls range from picking up stray and injured animals to assisting law enforcement on calls where animals are involved and investigating cases of animal neglect and cruelty, Clark said. The humane society is an open admission shelter that doesn’t turn animals away; it operates as a domestic animal shelter, wildlife rehabilitation center and farm facility.
The partnership between the city of Blaine and the humane society has dated more than 28 years, said lieutenant Ryan King of the Blaine Police Department.
Once a call is made reporting a stray animal, police officers are usually the first to respond. The police department will bring the animal back to a holding area in the station that is large enough for at least two dogs, King said. The humane society then picks these animals up and brings them back to the shelter.
Stray dogs are picked up most often from Blaine followed by occasional cats, King said. Spring and summer are when the police department picks up the most stray animals. There is no specific area where the police department receives the most calls because stray dogs don’t stay in one place very long, King said.
Clark said that over the years, the humane society has picked up everything from hamsters to horses in the Blaine area.
In addition to Blaine, the humane society currently provides animal control services to Bellingham, Ferndale, Everson, Sumas and unincorporated Whatcom County.
“The humane society is happy and honored to provide services for the people and animals in Blaine and the surrounding area, and we look forward to continuing to do so,” Clark said.
King advised residents to call 911 if they see a stray animal in Blaine, or to call the Whatcom Humane Society at 360/733-2080 ext. 3017 if the animal is outside city limits. After hours, residents should call 911 and an animal control officer will be notified for assistance.