Chesterton Tribune

Whitten wants County Council role on new animal control board

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With a number of contentious issues on the docket for the coming 2012 budgetary hearings, the Porter County Council acknowledges some difficult decisions and changes are going to be necessary.

Council president Dan Whitten said he going to make sure that the state of animal control in the county is included in those discussions during Tuesday’s meeting at the Hebron Community Center.

Recounting his mid-summer visits to the Porter County Animal Shelter where he witnessed a faulty air conditioning system and a nearly unventilated room with more than 80 cats in it, Whitten reiterated the conditions were “an absolute atrocity” and “completely inexcusable.”

He expressed his desire for the council to at minimum take a greater role in animal control, which is currently handled by the county commissioners. Whitten called for a letter to be sent to the commissioners basically demanding that a council member be part of the animal advisory boards that are being created later this week.

“The council has been hands off with the shelter in the past, but that time is over now,” Whitten said. “We need to start asking the tough questions. I don’t want to be any part of government sanctioned animal cruelty.”

He and councilmembers Jim Polarek and Jim Bigggs also discussed the possibility of the county government getting out of the animal shelter business completely.

“It’s a disgrace to Porter County residents to even drive past (the shelter),” Polarek said.

The three said it might be more effective to leave the animal care to professionals and get politicians out of the process completely. Biggs noted that the county has gotten out of many specialty services, including the hospital, and maybe this is another area that can be more effectively managed by others.

“Maybe we should defer to the experts in this,” Biggs said. “We need to at least look into it, so we can make the best decision.”

During the discussion, audience member Gale Carmona, who is the vice president of the Independent Cat Society, said that local private groups and non-profits are willing to work with the county. However, in the past their overtures have been ignored or dismissed.

“I don’t want to put the blame on anybody, but we have tried to work with the county,” Carmona said. “We all need to work together to do what’s best for the animals.”

Council members seemed to believe there was a solution to this problem and they had a desire to solve it as quickly and effectively as possible.

“There are a lot of tough and complex issues facing the county right now,” Biggs said. “This isn’t one of them. This is a fixable problem.”

Approved Funds

During the appropriations portion of the meeting, the council put an additional $6,391 into CEDIT Project #35 to cover the cost of tax penalties to the IRS and the Indiana Department of Revenue. Councilmember Sylvia Graham expressed concern that the process of settling those debts has been like “a dog chasing its tail,” but county auditor Robert Wichinski said the last payment should finally settle the issue.

The other votes by the council were all unanimous with most being simply transfers of funds.



Posted 8/31/2011