Hornell Humane Society’s FB Post, And Mayor Buckley’s Letter In Response

May 16, 2018

HORNELL, NY – The following post from the Hornell Humane Society was being passed around locally on Facebook, yesterday:
Effective immediately:
After many years proudly serving the City of Hornell, the Hornell Area Humane Society will no longer be performing Animal Control duties within city limits. Mayor Buckley desired to decrease our contract amount by 77% while expecting us to still provide the same duties 24/7, 365 days a year (dog control, dog catching, sick/injured stray cat assistance, addressing community concerns, etc). After much thought, discussion, and research on the cost of performing at the level we do, we have concluded that we are unable to adequately serve the community with the offered funds/contract, and had to decline his offer.
We are a non-profit organization, relying solely on the generous donations of our wonderful community, but are also able to provide dog/cat control services with contracted municipalities. These contracts are thoughtfully examined by various parties, taking a multitude of factors into account.
We are proud of the care and attention we provide to the stray and homeless dogs and cats that come through our doors, and gratefully find homes for those who are abandoned/never claimed by their owners.
We field phone calls frequently throughout the day from concerned individuals, and respond appropriately.
We sometimes spend hours on the road looking for the dog or cat that is on the run and possibly injured.
We volunteer hours when we get home checking our email and Facebook messages to quickly reunite an owner with their lost dog or cat.
We hope that these services we have provided are not compromised by this change.
Moving forward, if you have an animal control concern, please call city officials @ 607-324-7421 during the day, and the Hornell Police Department after hours (evenings/nights/weekends) @ 607-324-2860.
We thank you for your understanding and patience during this transition, and will continue to serve the pets and people that we are able to.

Response From Hornell Mayor John Buckley:

Open letter to Hornell Area Humane Society Board Members,
I am deeply saddened you have decided not to negotiate with the City of Hornell and are walking away. I am also deeply disappointed in the strident, argumentative, and sometimes combative nature your representatives had during our Tuesday meeting. The fact the Humane Society Board refuses to negotiate at all speaks volumes. Also, the misleading post on the Humane Society’s Facebook page is an obvious attempt to stir up people’s emotions.
During the Tuesday meeting, the City brought forth numerous examples of instances where the Humane Society ignored calls and emails from City officials. Also submitted was a letter from a 75-year-old resident who the Humane Society would not help regarding cats damaging her property. In fact, she was told by a Humane Society worker to “trap them herself”. Most troubling was the refusal of the Humane Society to remove two vicious dogs when the Hornell Police Department was conducting a drug raid, putting our law enforcement officers in further harm’s way. The dogs held officers at bay until finally they were forced to use mace on the animals.
The termination of services letter from the Society that was sent to my office states “The decision is based solely on your major reduction in funding”. The City of Hornell is not and never has been responsible to fund operations of the Humane Society. The City simply contracts for a service to be provided. As Mayor, I have to be fiscally responsible with resident’s tax dollars. Over the last few months, City officials have benchmarked with other municipalities to see what they are paying for dog control. The findings were eye opening. The City of Corning, Village of Bath, Village of Dansville, Wayland and Cohocton combined pay roughly the same amount the City of Hornell does for services. Let’s put that in perspective: the combined population of those 5 municipalities is over 25,000. Hornell by contrast is about 8,500. Hornell has been paying the Humane Society $37,500 annually since 2009. Those 5 municipalities together pay a base cost of just over $36,000 annually.
Further, Article 7, Section 115 of the New York State Ag & Markets Law states: Funds expended by municipality for services. No municipality shall be required to expend in any calendar year for dog control officer and pound or shelter services undertaken pursuant to this article, an amount of money greater than it receives during such year pursuant to this article and any local law or ordinance enacted pursuant thereto”. The City of Hornell collected $8,360 in licensing fees last year. By law, that is the amount the City is required to pay which is backed up by a legal opinion I received from a New York Conference of Mayors attorney.

At the end of yesterday’s meeting, I asked Society representatives to have discussion with their board members so that we could have a follow-up meeting to further negotiate. The Humane Society today made it clear they are unwilling to so, choosing instead to put misinformation on Facebook knowing full well most of the people reading it don’t have the facts in front of them when responding to the post.

As for dog control, this afternoon, the City reached out to an area Dog Control Officer who has agreed to service the City.

Thank you,

John Buckley