As Crestwood's Board of Aldermen look ahead to potential budget cuts in the next fiscal year, a handful of residents spoke in favor of retaining the city’s animal control services.
While a motion did not accompany the discussion, aldermen and residents alluded to a continuing dialogue that has taken place over the last few years on the costs and benefits of the department.
"Can the city continue to afford this service?" Ward III Alderman Jerry Miguel asked.
The city currently staffs one Animal Control Officer. The department's responsibilities include picking up stray animals, returning lost pets, and responding to other animal-related incidents throughout the city. The department has dealt with raccoons at the public pool, a stalking duck, and yes, even a loose squirrel inside the UPS store, according to one volunteer.
The department also maintains a care facility in , which offers pet adoptions. This facility serves as a stomping ground for many of the city’s volunteers.
Volunteer Mary Wheat said helpers have logged more than 1,000 hours at the facility this year, and believes it would not be “feasible or resident-friendly” to remove what has become a reputable shelter in the area.
Eliminating animal control services would force owners of lost pets to travel out of the city to retrieve their animals, she said.
Resident Richard Bland recognized animal control services aren't "have to have," but said they're a welcome perk to residents.
He said talk of eliminating the department was "short-sighted and mean spirited," and encouraged the Board to find an alternative way to balance the city's budget.
Megan Tennessen spoke on behalf of Lindbergh schools students who serve at the facility to collect service hours.
She said volunteering at the shelter "is the perfect opportunity to get service hours and have fun."
Ward IV Alderman Daniel Tennessen expressed concern that would have to pick up the slack if St. Louis County was overwhelmed taking on the city’s animal control service calls.
He added he expects the Board has "many more tough decisions" to come in regards to upcoming budgets.
The discussion is expected to continue at a future meeting.
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