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August 20, 2007

Barkin' up a storm: Animal rights group asks officials to make sweeping change at Jeffersonville shelter

Representatives of a local animal rights group have appeared at two public meetings this week to ask officials to consider withholding funding for the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter until it makes operational changes.

But the shelter’s director says public officials and others who question the facility’s care for animals can inspect it at any time.

Bethlehem resident Trish Roehm and Otisco resident Sharon Janson appeared before the Clark County Council on Monday and the Clarksville Town Council on Tuesday representing Clark County Dogs Deserve Better.

Roehm and Janson presented the County Council with a petition that advocates taking control of the shelter away from the city of Jeffersonville and giving it to a seven-member board for which Jeffersonville would have just one appointment that it makes on its own. According to the proposal, the city and the County Commissioners would jointly make five appointments to the board from a list of 10 names submitted by local animal rights groups. The seventh appointment would be made by the commissioners.

Currently, Jeffersonville pays about 66 percent of the shelter’s $266,000 annual budget and receives contributions from the county, Borden, Clarksville, Charlestown, Sellersburg and Utica for the remainder.

The proposal floated by Clark County Dogs Deserve Better does not provide for board representation from the other municipalities that help fund the shelter.

Jeffersonville leaders were not amused with the proposal.

“No, that’s not happening. Period,” said Jeffersonville Councilwoman Connie Sellers. “It will not be controlled by animal rights groups because they can’t even get along with each other.”

Jeffersonville City Council President Keith Fetz said it is unlikely that the city would relinquish control of J.B. Ogle so long as it pays two-thirds of the shelter’s expenses.

“Right now, we’re still paying the lion’s share,” he said. “If something could be crafted to encompass all of the communities (that send animals to and help pay for J.B. Ogle) … I’m not opposed to discussions about it.”

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