The Chatham Township Committee approved a resolution to have animal control services provided through an interlocal agreement with Madison, Harding, Livingston, New Providence and Millburn.
Millburn will provide the services at an hourly rate of $43.02. The township will be charged for the number of hours that are spent collecting reported stray animals. Domesticated animals such as dogs and cats will be housed for seven days at the rate of $40 per day.
The contract stipulates that the town will not be billed for more than $20,000. Given the small number of animals (nine dogs, 20 cats) collected in 2010 by St. Hubert's, who formerly provided this service to the township, Township Administrator Tom Ciccarone said he anticipates the total cost to the township to be "well under $10,000."
Nora Parker, the vice president of St. Hubert's, that other municipalities who had moved to similar agreements had neglected to stipulate what would happen to the animals after the state-mandated seven-day holding period ended.
Ciccarone said he contacted other partners in the agreement and said that the town could decide whether to extend the holding period for the animals. "[The committee] can choose how long you want to pay sheltering fees until someone either adopts the [pet] or the owner collects it," he said. "They will hold the animals as long as there is room at the shelter."
The committee determined that animals should be kept for 14 days. If there is not room at the shelter, St. Hubert's has said that they would be willing to place the animals in their adoptive program.
If the shelter finds any pets with licenses, the owners will be contacted. Animals that are violent or feral or are found to be diseased with rabies or another dangerous illness will be euthanized. Hagner said St. Hubert's has an animal behavioral assessment to determine which animals can be adopted out.
The committee also set a limit of $1,000 for an injured animal who may require surgery or other emergency medical care. If the animal's owner claims them, that fee will be passed on to the owner.
Reviving the Tree Committee
The committee also approved several members to the Tree Committee, which has been empty for several months. Janice Coviello, who is a contributor to Chatham Patch, had previously told committee members that she was interested in joining the committee, but Mayor Nicole Hagner said she did not want to appoint only one person to the committee with no guarantee that other people would join.
"I was able to meet with four residents who are interested in joining the Tree Committee this week," Hagner said. "They're going to meet this week and go through some things, and hopefully by the next meeting I'll be able to come back with a group of people and a confirmation on how we're going to move forward."
Committee Member Bailey Brower, Jr. said that since the township already has a paid arborist, he was concerned that the Tree Committee and the arborist may contradict and "misunderstand" each other. Somewhere along the line, Brower said, members of the committee and the arborist would need to "sit down and make sure they are on the same page.