City Council Gridlocks Humane Society Contract, Euthanasia Questions Remain

The Michigan Humane Society’s yearly contract with the City of Westland failed to receive approval after a 3-3 split among City Council members, with one absent member.  The annual contract lays out fee’s that the City will be charged for services provided by MHS that includes a flat fee of $8,691.67 per month with additional monthly costs such as veterinary fees, disposal fees, training services for Animal Control Officers, $55 per day fee to be charged for animals held longer than 10 days and much more.

Councilman Mike McDermott was the first to speak on the topic and noted that “some Human Society Shelters throughout the State are listed as ‘No Kill’ shelters but unfortunately ours (in Westland) is not.” Although the MHS Mission Statement states that they continue to strive to reduce the number of animals who must be humanely euthanized, it’s unclear whether or not animals are euthanized due to capacity issues at the Westland facility.

At the December 21st City Council Meeting, Neighborhood Services Director Hassan Saab explained the need for the contract and added that “they (MHS) provide excellent services.” Councilman Peter Herzberg acknowledged the importance of the contract but made a motion to postpone it until language could be added that outlines a euthanasia policy to determine when and why the procedure would take place. The motion was supported by Councilwoman Tasha Green.

Councilman James Godbout raised concerns about the timing of the contract and questioned if service would be affected if the contract gets delayed. Director Saab replied that the City would have to find a solution by January 1st, 2021. It appears that the contract was not placed on the City Council Agenda until the last possible meeting before the current contract expires.

The motion to postpone the contract failed in a 3-3 split; a majority vote is required for any approval. Council members McDermott, Green & Herzberg voted in support of the postponement while Londeau, Rutkowski & Godbout voted in opposition.

Councilman Herzberg continued the discussion by saying “I’m only asking that we can see the policy, and have it included in the contract… that states when/why euthanasia would take place.” In an attempt to compromise and alleviate concerns of interrupted service, Councilman Herzberg made a second motion, this time to amend the contract with a stipulation that says MHS will not send bills to the City for any Euthanasia. He added that MHS could come back next month to get that part cleared up.

Councilwoman Green supported the motion and said “I support the humane society… but I don’t see any problem with them having to document a euthanasia policy. I think any reasonable person can conclude that there are circumstances that make euthanizing an animal necessary, but I don’t see any problem with a request to have that process documented.”

The motion to amend the contract and exclude euthanasia costs also failed with the same 3-3 split, supported by Green, Herzberg & McDermott and opposed by Londeau, Rutkowski & Godbout. Finally, a vote to approve the original contract failed with the same 3-3 split among council members. According to the rules, that contract will need to have changes made before it comes back to City Council however, its unclear if those changes will include any sort of policy on euthanasia at the Westland facility. Stay tuned for updates.

Did you know that you can view available pets from the Westland Humane Society online? Click the image to view details about Danny, Usher and all of the other animals at the Westland Facility.