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Pet cremation fees set to increase

Scott Chandler knows how difficult it is to lose a pet.

Chandler, director of the Clallam County Humane Society, has lost several of his own, which is why it's difficult for him to ask for more money to take care of the body.

"We're not doing a wide range of increased fees here," Chandler said. "But the fees charged to us by the cremation service center have gone up and that increase is driving up rates here at the shelter as well."

Chandler said the increases will not bring in new revenue but simply cover the increased costs. Historically, the shelter utilized a rendering service but the company stopped coming to Clallam County in November.

"They wrote me a letter stating they would no longer service the area so now we deal strictly with cremation," he said. "It's a tough subject for pet owners, which is why we're making the process as straightforward as possible."

The shelter offers private and non-private cremation. Private cremation is a bit more expensive, but the owner gets the ashes back.

"We also better defined how we charge for different types and sizes of animals to make it clear what someone can expect when they come to us, that way no one is surprised in a difficult time," Chandler said.

The shelter breaks down charges based on weight and species. Chandler said people living in tight financial situations might seek slight discounts on a case-by-case basis.

"There are laws that dictate how you can dispose of dead animals and (cremation) is a very effective way," he said. "If you had some land and you wanted to bury your dog on his favorite hill, that would be all right. But I wouldn't suggest doing the same with a small backyard or on other public or private land."

The Clallam County commissioners were informed about the fee increases at the Feb. 11 study session. The shelter has not changed disposal rates since 2005, according to county administrator Jim Jones. The county has a $206,000 annual contract with the shelter to provide public animal control, shelter and transport. The recently increased fees are for individuals coming to the shelter.

"This discussion brings up an interesting question, with the Humane Society board and the Animal Advisory Committee both in operation, do we really need both boards?" Jones asked commissioners, indicating there were vacancies on the committee. "The sheriff said he doesn't think there needs to be both, but we thought we would bring up the topic for commissioners to discuss."

The advisory committee is a subgroup of the Sheriff's Office.

Commissioner Steve Tharinger said he'd like to see the committee continue because it provides a forum for people to talk about a wide range of animal issues. Commissioner Mike Doherty agreed.

"I don't think the meetings need to be monthly, more like quarterly," Doherty said. "But we should talk to the sheriff and the remaining board members before heading in a certain direction."

For more information and for adoption options, visit the Clallam County Humane Society at www.cchumane.com or call 457-8206.

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