GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After more than eight months of negotiations, the City of Gulfport and the Humane Society of South Mississippi have finally reached an agreement that will bring stray animals back to the shelter.
"After months of negotiations, a contract is now signed with the City of Gulfport to resume housing the animals picked up within city limits," said HSSM spokesperson Krystyna Schmitt.
According to officials, the contract will span three years. This is the first time the city and HSSM have agreed to a contract more for than just one year at a time.
Under the new agreement, the city will pay HSSM an annual fee of $175,000 to care for strays. Under the previous contract, HSSM charged the city $120 per stray.
Schmitt said the shelter is hoping two new ordinances unanimously passed by the Gulfport City Council on Tuesday night will help offset the contract price difference from previous years.
"We are hoping these new ordinances will help offset the contract price difference. We are prepared for the first year to be a loss, but we're hoping with the new ordinances in place, it will help offset the differences starting the second year," said Schmitt.
One of the new ordinances will eliminate the stray hold period on puppies under three months old and cats and kittens as long as they are not microchipped or wearing a tag. Those animals will still have a five day holding period.
"This ordinance will help us move the animals through the system faster and keeps our population moving," said Schmitt.
The second ordinance expands HSSM's ability to do more with its trap, neuter and release program for stray and feral cats.
"With the new ordinance, cats coming into the shelter without identification, we're now able to fix them, vaccinate them then return them to the same spot where they were found," said Schmitt.
Shelter officials tell us HSSM will immediately start taking stray animals picked up in Gulfport. They are also working to transfer the six animals that were being held at the Gulfport Police Department's shelter.