FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla., Dec. 31, 2021—The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society responded to the City of Crestview’s news release about the termination of animal services.
For more than two years, PAWS provided animal control services to the City of Crestview despite an expired contract and below-market billing rates, according to PAWS Executive Director Tracey Williams.
“This was not something we would normally address through the media,” she said. “But with the city’s press release, we felt the need to defend our position.”
Williams said they successfully renegotiated contracts with other municipalities this past year, and while city officials were not happy with the rate increase, they understood the contracts were overdue for a rise in rates based on increased expenses and cost of living.
The PAWS board of directors voted to no longer allow Okaloosa County’s citizens and shelter donors to subsidize the City of Crestview’s animal control functions, according to Williams.
Additionally, financial impact for accepting a rate as low as what Crestview offered to PAWS earlier this week would have impacted funding to be used to improve aging facilities animals and staff are living and working in, she said.
According to Williams, PAWS management first met with Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc in September 2020 about the need to work under a legal contract at rates that would cover the cost of services provided.
Crestview made little effort to further its relationship with PAWS during the next year and let invoices for services rendered go unpaid for periods up to 90 days, according to Williams.
After a year of inactivity, on Sept. 12, PAWS issued Crestview a notice to terminate services in 90 days unless a formal written agreement was reached.
When no agreement had been reached by Dec. 15 and PAWS’s invoices for August-November remained unpaid, the attorney for PAWS intervened and contacted the city’s attorney and provided another extension through Dec. 31.
Crestview’s final offer would have forced PAWS to lose upwards of $100,000 annually to provide them animal control services, according to Williams.
“This would perpetuate an unsustainable business model, whereby the non-profit’s shelter funds would be used to subsidize animal control services for the City of Crestview, instead of much needed improvements to infrastructure and care for the animals.” she said. “Consequently, PAWS felt it had no option but to terminate services in Crestview, effective Jan. 1, 2022.”
Williams said that the shelter remains open with programs for all abused and neglected animals in Okaloosa County; however, animal control response services are contracted by municipalities and paid for by the taxpayers who use them.
PAWS news release