Letter to the Fond du Lac Council Members & Joe Moore

Letter to the Fond du Lac Council Members & Joe Moore

March 13, 2023

Patrick Mullen: Council President: pmullen@fdl.wi.gov
Keith Heisler: Council Vice-President: kheisler@fdl.wi.gov
Tiffany Brault: Council Member: tbrault@fdl.wi.gov
Kenneth Cassaday: Council Member: kcassaday@fdl.wi.gov
Jane Ricchio, Council Member: jricchio@fdl.WI.gov
Thomas Schuessler, Council Member: tschuessler@fdl.wi.gov
Brett Zimmerman, Council Member: bzimmermann@fdl.wi.gov
Joseph Moore, City Manager: jmoore@fdl.wi.gov
Deborah Hoffmann, FDL City Attorney: dHoffmann@fdl.wi.gov

My name is Penny Kottke, and I am Board President of the Fond du Lac Humane Society. Thank you
for providing the opportunity for me to speak at the Wednesday, March 8 Meeting. In addition, thank
you for listening to the information on the TNR program. Short term, this program will take time and
investment from both parties, but long term will save the City money in animal control as the overall
number of strays will be reduced. Without this program, the stray cat problems will continue to increase
and the current problems we have will only worsen. The FDL Humane Society is hopeful the City will
officially reconsider this program. This letter is a follow-up to that meeting. Because contract
negotiations are struggling, I hope that as Council Members and the City Manager, you will consider the
FDL Humane Society’s concerns and be a part of the solution of animal control throughout our entire
I want to start by reiterating that the FDL Humane Society is invested in our community and wants to
continue to serve this community. When the FDL Humane Society requested changes to the new
contract, it wasn’t because we were trying to be unreasonable. We recognized some serious animal
control and safety issues in the City and in order for us and the City to be successful, we needed to
regroup and determine the best way to handle the situation. Unfortunately, those discussions were not
well received by the City and negotiations have broken down. While we may be getting by in the short
term, long term there will be even more serious animal control issues as no facility can handle the
quantity and continuing issues alone.
There are several ways this can be managed. I am focusing on 2 options : our recommended option (1)
and the cities current proposal (2).
1) On February 10 th , we sent Deborah Hoffmann, the attached contract outlining the services the FDL
Humane Society can absolutely provide in 2023. We are the only local facility setup to handle the
quantity of animals and as partners with the City, can get animal control back to a reasonable
number. To be successful, we need to address the problems, rethink and be open to changing how
we are operating together as a team today and actually show the community we are partners in
animal control. In the end, it takes commitment from both parties. I’ve outlined the key aspects of
the contract below:

 The FdL Humane Society would continue to provide pick up services for lost,
stray, trapped, injured, or abused dogs and cats during regular Shelter hours
as long as the animals are contained.

o Clarification: This is no different than in the past. Often, good Samaritans
bring them directly to the shelter and the police never even need to be
involved. There seems to be some confusion on the hours we can take
strays. We take animals from 9 AM to 7 PM six days a week. (Monday –
Saturday). Our front office is open 30 hours per week, but we still accept
strays from 9 AM to 7 PM. Outside the standard office hours, we just ask that
they call the shelter, so we are ready for them when they arrive.

 After hours, the FDL Humane Society would provide a point of contact to assist
with any after hour emergency as defined in the contract.
o Clarification: Staff safety was a big concern going into the contract. The
demographics of FdL have changed over the past 20 years and we needed
to address necessary and unnecessary situations. When we built our new
building several years ago, we added a keyless entry that we offered to the
City police to drop off strays during the night. Most of the Humane Societies
have moved to this method for safety reasons. The City of FDL refused this
option, but just recently appear open to utilizing this method of bringing in
strays. In emergency situations, the FDL Humane Society is equipped and
prepared to respond.

 Bite quarantines were not included in this contract.
o Clarification: Bite quarantines were never identified as a part of the City
contract. Bite quarantines fall specifically under WI Statute 95.21. The FDL
Humane Society is one of the few areas set up and still willing to take in bite
quarantines. Unfortunately, in 2022, we had so many coming in that there
were times we were maxed out on the number we could hold within our
facility. In addition, bite quarantines are not paid for by the City. The owner
is responsible for all costs associated with a bite quarantine and our internal
policy is that the owner MUST not only bring the animal in to safely deliver
into our facility, but they must also pay up front. The rules and cost are
stringent, and we begged the City to hold the owners accountable. We do not
have problems with bite quarantines from any other jurisdictions, but the City
of Fond du Lac has argued that they can force us to take the animal with no
guarantee of payment. We can’t and won’t do that as there are too many
owners that will never reclaim the animal and not only will we be stuck with
all the costs, but then we will also be required to euthanize the animal. It
also does not change owner’s behavior when they get to just walk away. If
the City wishes to force unpaid bite quarantines on another facility, we are
okay with that, but want you to understand that we will accept them but
expect WI Statute 95.21 to be followed along with our internal policies
including payment in advance. Bite quarantines are a serious liability to the
City if they are not handled correctly. We understand there was a recent bite
quarantine where paperwork was incorrectly changed (not following WI
Statute 95.21). The FDL Humane Society was not even contacted until 6
days after the bite. Once contacted, we were happy to take the animal with
payment (which we did), but if that animal had been rabid, the person bitten
may have already been dead. That would not only be a travesty for the
victim, but would be a nightmare for the City. We take this seriously, but
need the City to also take it seriously.

 The FdL Humane Society shall have at least one motor vehicle capable of
picking up multiple animals and securing them in enclosed, secure cages.
o No changes. This service will continue to be provided during the typical
workday and for emergency after hour situations.

 The FdL Humane Society shall cooperate with the Police Department, during
regular Shelter business hours, when impoundment of dogs and cats is
necessary because of excessive barking or other acts constituting a public

o Clarification: Again, the after hours are considered 7 PM to 9 AM plus
Sundays. We do have cleaning staff on location starting at 7 AM, so if there
is a situation, the Police would continue to reach out to the Shelter Manager
to coordinate. After hours, we have offered the keyless entry for police to
bring in animals. This was originally rejected by the Police Department, but
recently they are open to this option. This option is standard practice for
most Humane Societies today. Not only is it a safety issue, but it is a
convenience issue for the police as they can respond much quicker, rather
than wait for someone to be called in when there are non-emergency

 If an officer contacts the FdL Humane Society to assist in situations involving
shootings or neglect, the officer will inform the FdL Humane Society of the
situation to allow the FdL Humane Society to determine the level of skill and
experience required to attend to the situation. The officer will remain on the
scene until the FdL Humane Society staff leaves with the animal(s) unless the
officer is required to respond to other emergency situations taking place in the
o Clarification: This is a safety issue for the team and an assurance we are
providing the best qualified person/s in emergency situations.

 The FdL Humane Society will accept animals if doing so is in compliance with all
regulations of the State of Wisconsin and local codes and regulations, including
capacity limitations imposed on the FdL Humane Society by the State of
o Clarification: Our facility has been built to hold 43 kennels in back for dogs
and 11 on the adoption floor. The stray/hold intake rooms for dogs have 6
kennels. For dogs, the number of kennels is set and cannot be changed. If
we have many bite quarantines (which take 2 kennels each), the number of
dogs we can hold at one time is actually less. For cats, our facility was built
to hold 100 cats, but we can utilize temporary cages in our hallways during
kitten season. The stray/hold intake room for cats is twenty cages. The
dogs and cats must stay in the stray/hold intake rooms up to 7 days (if
unclaimed). This area of the facility allows us to contain any diseases these
animals may come in with, so they are not spread throughout the facility.
Cats are even more important to keep separated from the other healthy
animals because the chances of a stray cat bringing in ringworm, upper
respiratory infections, worms, distemper, or other diseases are highly likely.
With the numbers of animals coming in, there are times that we are
physically full as we are waiting to safely transition animals into their next
room. This is where backup of other rescues or organizations may be helpful
during the busiest seasons.

 The FDL Humane Society is also willing to work with the City on hoarding
cases. This is outside the contract because the situation, costs, and
requirements cannot be determined until the situation is reviewed. It is
imperative that any hoarding cases are handled as early as they are identified
to minimize the number of animals in the situation. Cats breed quickly and
often and a case of 15 cats can quickly turn into 40, 50 or more if not handled
timely. We have been told the City is aware of at least 3 cases they have
chosen to not address at this time. With the next round of kitten season
coming, this delay could result in a much higher number of cats and therefore
costs involved.

This attached contract we sent to the City on February 9/10 th continues to have the FDL Humane Society
as the main point of contact for the City and minimizes confusion for who to call. At the same time, the
FDL Humane Society and the City have the ability to show a true partnership of managing the animal
control in the City and hold animal owners accountable for their responsibility.

2) A per animal fee. After we sent the City the contract discussed above, they came back and stated
they only wanted the FDL Humane Society to accept stray dogs and non-stray dogs (cats) at a per
animal fee. The two issues with their contract surround the fee they are willing to pay and the idea
they do not want to include feral cats.

 Clarification 1: The FdL Humane Society is not opposed to a per animal fee. With a
per animal fee, the City has financial incentive to partner in addressing animal control
issues so we can begin to reduce the quantity of strays (including feral) within the
City. If the amount paid by the City is reduced because we are addressing the
problems, the FDL Humane Society celebrates because it also reduces their costs
and helps to limit overcrowding.
 Clarification 2: The City offered the FdL Humane Society a per animal fee of $50 for
Cats and $100 for a dog. These rates are a problem for several reasons.
o Cats are less likely to be reclaimed (4.9% in 2022) than dogs (47%)
o Cats carry more diseases and therefore are more expensive to house due to
required medications resulting in a longer overall length of stay. Because
84% of the animals we received in 2022 were from the City of Fond du Lac,
we are rarely able to bring in animals to just adopt within our community that
are already healthy and just looking for a home. Strays come in with worms,
distemper, ringworm, and other highly contagious diseases that must be
addressed before we can adopt out.
o All animals must be held for up to 7 days to allow proper opportunity for the
owner to reclaim. These costs do not come close to covering the cost of
boarding including food and care as well as addressing any immediate
medical issues once they come into our facility. The 2022 City of FDL
contract covered only 20% of the costs of the City strays and seized animals.
The FDL Humane Society has never asked the City to cover the full costs as
we know our mission is greater than the City’s responsibility, but with
increases of approximately 1% per year, the pricing has not come close to
keeping up with the costs of doing business. The per animal fees the City
offered are similar to fees a small town or village would be charged that bring
in 5 to 30 animals a year. These quantities are small, manageable, and do
not cause overcrowding within our facility. In addition, any agreement must
include Good Samaritans bringing stray animals directly to the shelter. We
always confirm the animal was located within the city limits. If it is not, we
direct individuals to the appropriate points of contact for stray animals within
the various jurisdictions. If the city only allows animals that come through the
police department, we will be forced to require everyone to contact the City
Police department. This is foolish and utilizes unnecessary Police resources.
o Deborah Hoffmann provided us with a copy of the contract for Marathon
County Humane Society for the City of Wausau. (Also attached) This
contract was for stray non-dogs (cats) only. City of Wausau is slightly smaller
than the City of Fond du Lac (40,000 vs 45,000). This rate was based on a
sliding scale of volume which incentives the City to partner with the Humane
Society and keep animal control reasonable. The price paid by the City of
Wausau is $185 per non-stray dog up to 250 animals and $200 per non-stray
dog over 250 animals. This pricing made sense to us, and we would be
willing to accept it as a per animal rate for all animals that come in through
the City (strays/feral, impounds, seize, hoarding, etc.) This way, as we
partner to reduce the overall number of animals, the City costs also go down.
The $185 per animal rate increases the City cost per animal from the current
20% to 28% which is still well below the total cost.

 Clarification 3: Feral Cats: When a cat is brought in to the FDL Humane Society, we
often do not know if a cat is feral or a very scared stray for several days. A TNR
program would help this because if their ear is tipped, we would not accept, nor
charge the City for that cat and require the good Samaritan to return it to its original

location. With a TNR program in place, any non-ear tipped animals can be
vaccinated, neutered/spayed, and returned to its location as a part of the program.
This is the easiest way to manage this program. In addition, the City is welcome to
work with other rescue organizations focused on feral cats only to minimize the
quantity that come through the FDL Humane Society. If the City determines they will
allow a trap program, these rescues can absolutely manage some of these trapping
programs with the City and minimize the number that come into the FDL Humane
Society. Our point is that if a non-tipped cat comes in as a stray, the FDL Humane
Society must be able to handle it appropriately as a stray cat from the City. Our
current policy (NO TNR Program) is to vaccinate, spay/neuter and relocate them
outside the city. In the past, with no TNR program, we have only worked with the
animals that come to us as strays and have not engaged in any trapping program.
This has always been a part of our previous contracts. The TNR program makes the
most sense for the community.

We have made significant investments in this community with money we raised which has saved the City
millions of dollars in building investments and annual operating costs. We made this investment because
we are committed to this community. However, the City has to be an active part of the solution, not only
financially, but in the rules and regulations it has in place. We are not asking you to bear the price alone,
as we, along with our supporters have taken on the majority of the costs. Unfortunately, through the
process, the City has now made price an issue. The biggest losers are the animals that the City is
responsible for. We want to partner with the City, but CANNOT bear the cities full financial and legal
responsibility for animal control.
Thank you for listening. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you.
Penny Kottke
FDL Humane Society Board President