DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners will meet with municipal officials later this month to discuss the possibility of a regional solution for animal control and public health.
Joseph Guyotte, animal control officer for the Unorganized Territory and most of the towns in Piscataquis County, believes local and county costs will escalate as more animals are abandoned because of the poor economy. He’s also finding fewer places to board these animals. He suggested to commissioners this fall that a regional approach might save the towns and the county money.
The commissioners agreed to facilitate such a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, in the Superior Courtroom, but decided to expand it to include public health. Each community is required to have a health officer, but some smaller communities have difficulty filling the role, so the possibility exists of having one person perform the function countywide
“Why talk about it in an isolated vacuum. We need to get everyone in the same room and say, ‘Hey, this is the problem; is there a regional solution to it?” Commissioner Tom Lizotte said.
Piscataquis County Manager Mike Henderson said that with a regional approach, the county could negotiate a single contract with either Foxcroft Veterinary or the Bangor Humane Society for boarding stray animals.
Earlier, Guyotte said the local veterinary service would need at least $10,000 a year to operate a portion of its vacated building as a boarding facility. In a recent meeting, however, the veterinary service pegged the cost at $96,516 a year, which includes two new full-time employees. In comparison, a contract with Bangor Humane Society would be $29,127 a year.
Under one regional scenario, towns could be assessed for animal control services based on a per capita expense of $1.69. For example, Abbot, with 630 people, would pay a county assessment of $1,064.70 a year for the service. In comparison, the town now pays $71.40 a call for mileage and the animal control officer’s time in addition to boarding fees.
Regarding public health, the discussion will focus on current public health practices and future services. Under a regional scenario, a part-time public health officer would serve under the Emergency Management Agency. That person would serve as an information point for all towns on public health, serve as liaison with the state during a public health emergency, respond to local public health issues, and work with school nurses to track outbreaks of potential epidemic diseases.