On Wednesday, the City of Crestview announced that they would no longer contract with PAWS for animal control services after negotiating a contract renewal throughout 2021 failed.
- PAWS has provided services to Crestview for the past two years.
- Approximately three months ago, the City of Crestview stated that PAWS presented a 90-day contract extension ultimatum.
According to the city, staff attempted to negotiate a rate reflective of the current services provided while remaining fair to Crestview citizens. On December 23, 2021, PAWS representatives delivered a proposal to City Manager Tim Bolduc that included a rate increase of over 100% and refused further rate negotiations, according to a press release.
“We don’t feel that PAWS is serving our citizens at the level they deserve,” City Manager Tim Bolduc said. “Between their withdrawal from the North Okaloosa shelter in Laurel Hill and their lack of response in helping deal with feral cats, they are asking us to pay for services that aren’t available.”
The City of Crestview will begin providing emergency animal control service beginning on January 1st. However, the city will not be accepting animal drop-offs at this time.
- Starting January 1st, citizens should contact 850.682.2055 for animal control.
There will be a transitional period over the next 60 days, and there is an interim plan for handling emergency issues during this period, according to the city. The city will use this time to hire animal control officers and update the animal housing facility.
“We have a solid plan in place,” Mr. Bolduc said. “We ask for our citizens to be patient as we navigate this transition. In the end, we believe we will be able to provide a much higher level of service.”
In response to the Crestview’s announcement, the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society issued a statement:
“This was not something we would normally address through the media,” Executive Director Tracey Williams said. “But with city’s press release, we felt the need to defend our position.”
Williams explained that PAWS has successfully renegotiated contracts with other municipalities this past year, and while other city officials were not happy with the rate increase, “they understood that the contracts were long overdue for a rate increase based on increased expenses and the cost of living.”
According to Williams, PAWS’ Board of Directors voted to no longer “subsidize” the City of Crestview’s animal control functions.
- “The 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 in which that the animals and staff are living and working,” wrote PAWS in a press release.
PAWS stated that their management first met with 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 over the next year and let invoices for services rendered go unpaid for periods up to 90 days,” stated the press release. ” After a year of inactivity, on September 12, 2021, PAWS provided a well-intentioned notice to Crestview that it would terminate services in 90 days, unless a formal written agreement was reached.”
As of December 15, 2021, no agreement had been reached. The attorney for PAWS contacted the City’s attorney and provided another extension through December 31, 2021, according to PAWS.
- “Crestview’s final offer would have forced PAWS to lose upwards of $100,000 annually to provide them animal control services,” wrote 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.” Williams concluded. “Consequently, PAWS felt it had no option but to terminate services in Crestview, effective January 1, 2022.”
Williams stated that the shelter remains open with programs for all abused and neglected animals in Okaloosa County.