Humane Society hopes to keep ties with Gulfport PD

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - What was thought to be a temporary standoff between the Gulfport Police Department and the Humane Society of South Mississippi has lasted longer than expected. It is all because of a financial disagreement which lead the police department to opt out of renewing their contract with the shelter and opening their own.

Humane Society Director Tara High is optimistic about the possibility of them working things out.

"Our board of directors, we're still communicating," High said. "We're still hopeful that we can all come to a place where the animals in our community will be best served. I think the chief, the city wants that as well as our organization, so I would say that the communication line is still open."

The two sides have been unable to agree on what Gulfport should pay the Humane Society to shelter stray animals. The city thinks the best solution is to build its own shelter. High says that isn't the smartest thing to do.

"Once the chief and the city have had a chance to really do their homework on what it's going to cost for them to run a shelter, they will find that they will not be able to do it and save money," High said.

Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania says the move will save the city money because based on the proposed contract, the Humane Society wants to charge the city about $120 for each stray animal that it drops off, but the city doesn't receive credit from adoption fees collected by the shelter.

"It's calculated for us to pay $120 per animal delivered, whether it's adopted back out or picked up by its owner. None of that money moves back to the police department, and we believe if we establish our own facility, we'll be able to capture some of that, enjoy some cost savings for services that were never rendered," Papania said.

High says the Humane Society will remain open and willing to do whatever they can to work out an agreement for the City of Gulfport, the Humane Society and the animals.

At this time, the Humane Society of South Mississippi only takes what they call owner surrendered animals. That's animals that can no longer be taken care of by their owner for whatever reason.

All strays are handled by animal control and the Gulfport Police Department.

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