Marathon County cuts stray cat funding in new contractSubmitted: 10/17/2013
Story By Adam Fox

WAUSAU - Marathon County will stop funding stray cat care at the non-profit Humane Society of Marathon County.

Humane Society Board President Linda Berna-Karger says payments from the county over the past few years weren't large enough to cover costs.

"We could no longer provide the service that we were for the number of animals we were taking in with the compensation that was coming from the county," Berna-Karger said.

So the humane society asked the county to pay a bit more. On Tuesday the county board unanimously voted no. State law requires the county to cover costs for stray dogs, but not cats.

The county will now pay to only quarantine cats that bite people. Berna-Karger says the obligation will shift to towns and municipalities.

"That will be up to each individual municipality to decide what they're
going to do there," Berna-Karger said.

Under the new contract, the county will offer some money to towns and municipalities to help pay for stray cat service over the next two years. The county will cut all assistance by 2016. That contract begins Jan. 1, 2014.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple says the move puts a burden on towns.

"It's kind of a balancing act problem and it's not a problem in the country, but it's certainly a problem in the metro area," Tipple said. "We're going to have to come up with some funding to bridge that gap."

Berna-Karger says cats will still be allowed at the society. They won't deal with stray cats found by people or police unless an agreement is met with municipalities.

"We will continue to accept cats from people that own a cat and find out that they can no longer keep that animal," Berna-Karger said.

The Humane Society of Marathon County is currently taking care of 166 cats.

Newswatch 12 reached out to Marathon County Board Chairman Gary Wyman for comment. He did not respond to a voice mail for a request to comment.

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