The Ellis County SPCA has an owner-surrender program for dogs and cats – and also takes in stray and abandoned animals picked up by people in the areas where the agency has a service contract.

There has been some criticism, though, directed toward the nonprofit organization’s fee schedule in providing those services.

Executive director Dana White said the fees are in line with what other agencies of their type charge – and agencies that offer the service for a lesser fee are able to do so because they are in a better financial position.

“My feeling is the fees are minimal because they just cover the basic tests and vaccines to make that animal adoptable,” White said. “As a nonprofit, we’re not out to price gouge anyone. We’re just out to cover our losses so as to keep the doors open.”

Owner-surrenders are by appointment only so as to ensure a staff member is on hand to handle the paperwork and conduct the screening, kennel manager Shane Upchurch said, noting only a donation is asked where an animal is current with its vaccinations, on heartworm preventative and is immediately suitable for adoption.

For owner-surrenders where there is no history of medical care and attention, there’s a sliding fee scale. Under those circumstances, a large dog can be surrendered for $75, a medium dog for $50, a small dog for $40 and $40 for a cat. A litter of up to five puppies or kittens is taken in for a fee of $75, with each additional animal $5.

“These fees cover vaccinations and their housing and feeding,” Upchurch said, noting only adoptable animals are accepted through the agency’s owner-surrender program. “We don’t take in animals as owner-surrenders that we would only turn around and euthanize.”

The owners of animals that aren’t adoptable are given a list of options that include placing a free ad in the Waxahachie Daily Light, calling into KBEC 1390’s Flea Market Show and contact numbers for different rescue groups and the Dallas SPCA. The Ellis County SPCA also will place a courtesy ad and photograph for any purebred animal on its own Web site to help with placement.

Owners of animals deemed unadoptable are also given the option of having their animal euthanized by the SPCA for a fee that is based on $5 per 10 pounds of weight and $25 for the cremation service.

Regarding stray or abandoned animals, White said the Ellis County SPCA takes in those from the public for a fee, but only from residents in rural Ellis County and the cities of Ennis, Palmer, Garrett and Milford, where the agency has a service contract in place.

People who reside in other areas, such as the cities of Waxahachie or Red Oak, are provided with the number of their local animal control, she said.

No appointment is necessary for an eligible stray or abandoned animal to be brought in, although a call ahead helps ensure a staff member is on hand. Stray and abandoned animals are taken in for a flat fee of $40, which covers feed, housing and initial medications. After the state-mandated three-day hold ends for the animal, the SPCA determines – based upon medical status and behavior – whether or not it is adoptable or eligible for rescue placement. Those strays and abandoned animals determined not adoptable are humanely euthanized.

“We’re doing our best to accommodate everybody,” Upchurch said of the programs offered by the SPCA to the public.

Trying to raise more money

The Ellis County SPCA’s annual membership drive is under way and the nonprofit organization is encouraging people to join.

“We’re extremely dependent on the public’s support and it doesn’t always have to be monetary support,” White said. “It can be volunteering or spreading the word about spay and neuter or the services we do provide.”

White has served as executive director for three years and said support for the agency has grown.

“I hope it will continue to increase,” she said.  

Various levels of membership are offered that include several benefits and, most importantly, help provide the agency with the additional funding it needs to better serve animals in need, Upchurch said.

If unable to become a member, any donation is welcomed by the agency, which has an ongoing wish list of needed items that can be viewed on its Web site.

“We go through cat litter and copy paper like you wouldn’t believe,” Upchurch said. “We also always need laundry soap, dish soap and paper towels.”

Monetary donations can be made via several ways, including PayPal and credit cards.

For more information about any of the agency’s fees or ways to help, contact Upchurch or White at the Ellis County SPCA, located at 2570 Farm-to-Market 878, Waxahachie, call the office at  972-935-0756 or visit online at www.elliscountyspca.org.

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylight.com