Over 3,888,949 readers this year!

Casper’s animal shelter, short on staff, asked to take on Mills, Evansville service needs

Metro Animal Shelter (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper is being asked to provide animal sheltering services for the City of Mills and the Town of Evansville.

Casper’s neighboring communities saw their relationship with a third-party animal services provider end last week, Casper City Manager Carter Napier told the City Council on Tuesday, July 5 during its pre-meeting work session. The City Council will be asked to approve memorandums of understanding with Mills and Evansville to provide shelter services during Tuesday’s meeting.

Mills and Evansville would each pay Casper $5,335.54 under the proposed agreements. Casper’s Metro Animal Shelter would care for up to 12 dogs and five cats per month from each community. The agreements would be temporary as Casper works with Mills and Evansville toward a more permanent arrangement, according to Napier. The proposed agreements would last from July 6 to September 5.

Councilmember Kyle Gamroth asked how the requests might impact the capacity at Metro Animal Shelter.

“I don’t think these arrangements make the capacity issues any better,” Napier said.

However, he said Mills and Evansville don’t have any other options immediately available and noted that Casper has previously provided shelter services to both communities.

Councilmember Lisa Engebretsen noted that Casper’s shelter is having trouble finding staff, and asked whether Mills and Evansville could be asked to help provide staffing.

“Certainly, that would be ideal if they had people to provide,” Napier said. “If they have people we could hire, we would be interested in that.”

Councilmember Bruce Knell noted that the City Council is working on establishing priorities for use of one-cent optional sales tax dollars and said it is unfortunate for the Metro issues to arise amid that process. He said that agreements with Mills and Evansville should ensure those communities pay Casper for the services.

“We want to be a good partner to our fellow cities,” Knell said. “They also need to be paying their way.”

The city manager added that longer-term agreements with Mills and Evansville would look to ensure those municipalities are helping fund staffing needs at the shelter, noting that staffing issues at Metro aren’t necessarily about money but rather about finding and retaining people able to do the work that is needed.

If Casper were to reject the proposals from Mills and Evansville, Napier said he suspects the city’s shelter would wind up seeing animals from those communities anyway.

Councilmember Amber Pollock said that she thinks the requests from Mills and Evansville should be approved as animals needing care don’t know the difference between being in Evansville versus Casper or Mills.

With the city hearing a range of concerns about its existing shelter and services, Pollock said she thinks the requests from Mills and Evansville make it more urgent that Casper address any problems, as taking on the needs of those communities could exacerbate those problems.

“I think we’ve got to move faster on other conversations about Metro,” she said. “How do we get a facility up there to handle our needs and surrounding communities?”

Gamroth suggested the City Council form a committee to work on the Metro Animal Shelter issues.

Engebretsen asked whether it is possible to meet all the demands the city is hearing from people concerned about the quality of services at Metro.

“I tend to have my doubts to be very, very candid,” Napier said.

On the other hand, Napier said he thinks the city should try to address problems that people are pointing to, even if it is not possible to make everyone completely happy.

Pollock said appeasing people should not be the goal, but rather working to ensure animal services the city provides are at or above industry standards.

“That we can do,” she said. “That’s where sights should be set.”

The City Council indicated during Tuesday’s pre-meeting work session that it was prepared to approve the agreements with Mills and Evansville during the regular meeting. The proposed agreements can be reviewed in the following document: