PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Stray animals are soon going to cost area communities money starting this Sunday in Luzerne County.
The SPCA of Luzerne County says it can no longer afford to take in animals for free and will now charge municipalities for animals it takes in.
The sign is posted at the front desk of the SPCA of Luzerne County, showing the thousands of stray animals taken in just in 2017 and the hundreds already taken in this year.
But now, the accepting of free animals is about to stop at the shelter.
Executive director Todd Hevner says starting this Sunday, municipalities will have to pay for animals the shelter takes in.
While their annual budget is $1.2 million, they annually have a six-figure deficit which currently is at $135,000.
“Our expenses continue to outpace our revenue. It was incumbent upon our leadership to come up with something to assist that,” said Hevner.
Of the 76 municipalities in Luzerne County, only 12 have sent payment.
Hevner says each animal now has a $95 fee that communities can pay over a five-year period.
“So, its 20 percent of the animal fee the first year, 40 percent the second, 60 percent the third,” said Hevner.
After April 1, strays from nonpaying communities will not be taken in.
People bringing them in will be referred to both their municipalities and to one of the two other shelters in the county.
However, at Blue Chip Farm in the Back Mountain, they are at capacity for cats.
“We must get 20 calls a day,” said Cordie Braun with Blue Chip. “We have 120 cats and right now we can't take any more cats in.”
Krystal Krispin and her two daughters were at the SPCA thinking of adding a new pet to the family. Her family feels it's important to support area shelters.
“It's nice to have a place where they're safe. We're always happy to contribute to the SPCA, even Blue Chip. We live in Dallas,” said Krispin.
Along with 12 communities already paying, Hevner says five more have indicated they will as well.