Dog census boosts call volumePublished 5:20pm Thursday, August 16, 2012
ST. JOSEPH — Conducting the dog census, which is about 75 percent complete, meant three people answering as many as 163 calls a day, Berrien County Animal Control Director Valarie Grimes advised the Board of Commissioners Administration Committee Thursday.
There were 2,767 landline calls, or almost 130, fielded in May by herself, her secretary and a part-time employee, Grimes said: 3,586 in June, or 163 per day; and 2,928 in July, or 140 per day.
“That’s a lot of calls. It’s been a wild place,” she said of the shelter in Berrien Township. “We’ve gone from an average of 4,500 complaints to 6,200 complaints last year. We’ll be up this year to probably 6,500. We’re beyond our capabilities with four officers and three part-timers. My staff deserves a big star for hanging in there. The increase in the workload tripled on us.”
There are 500 registered volunteers, she said during review of her $529,000 budget with the four-commissioner committee.
“They don’t want to be in the office, they want to be with the animals,” she said of the volunteers.
Christmas party donations “saved” her department from having to buy food during the first quarter of 2012, said Grimes, who worries that feed has increased from $11 to $15 because summer drought hindered the corn crop, the basis for dog food.