The York County SPCA will no longer accept stray or injured pets from East Manchester Township or provide other services.
"The last thing we ever want to do is turn an animal away, so this decision was a difficult one," SPCA Executive Director Melissa Smith said. "However, it's not fair to the other municipalities that pay us in a timely manner for our services."
East Manchester Township has not signed a contract for SPCA services in 2013, and also never signed a 2012 service contract, Smith said.
Good Samaritans who find stray or injured dogs Mondays through Fridays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. can call 911 and ask that a state dog warden pick up the dog, according to Samantha Krepps, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture, which oversees the state's dog-law office.
After hours and on weekends, local police departments normally handle those incidents, she said.
Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said his department must defer to East Manchester Township's plan regarding strays. In the past, that has meant calling township animal control officer Mike Ellis, Rizzo said.
Plan? Two weeks ago, Steven H. Gross Jr., chairman of the township board of supervisors, said the plan was for Ellis to pick up and hold stray dogs until a state dog warden retrieved them.
But Krepps said Ellis cannot hold dogs because he doesn't have a state kennel license.
Contacted Friday, township manager Dave Gentzler said there is no plan to deal with strays, and that there was never a plan for Ellis to pick up and hold stray or injured dogs.
"We are not picking up strays at this time," he said, and haven't been "for quite a while."
The township won't be taking any action on stray, feral or injured cats, Gross has said.
No contract: East Manchester Township did not sign a contract with the York County SPCA in 2012 or 2013, according to Smith.
Gross said East Manchester's $3 million budget is stretched thin and residents have repeatedly told him they don't want to pay more. He said he and some constituents believe the SPCA's annual fee amounts to a tax because of the way it's determined.
The SPCA's fee structure charges 50 cents per capita, based on U.S. Census figures, for each municipality, according to Smith. For East Manchester Township, that meant $3,632 last year.
Despite having no contract with the township for 2012, Smith said the SPCA continued to provide services there through January because she was told supervisors were still considering renewing the contract.
Gross confirmed Gentzler put the matter on the supervisors' agenda a number of times in 2012, but supervisors never took action on it.
2012 numbers: In 2012, the SPCA took in 16 dogs, 68 cats and three goats from the township, Smith said.
Had East Manchester supervisors approved the 2012 contract with the SPCA and paid the fee, it would have amounted to $41.75 per animal, she said.
Gross indicated it's not the township's responsibility to pay for 2012 services it never agreed to.
"Shame on them for not (dealing with this) sooner," he said.
Smith said the York County SPCA's fee is "a bargain" and that other shelters charge up to $300 to take in a stray dog.
Cats: She expressed concern that East Manchester Township has no plan in place to deal with stray and feral cats, calling it a health issue.
"I believe this is happening because the governing body of East Manchester Township as a whole may not recognize the value of the totality of the services we provide, and the bargain at which we provide it," Smith said.
Gross has said the township has offered the SPCA $1,500 for 2013 services and thinks the agency should be willing to negotiate its fee.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.