RGV Humane Society proposes revisions during contract negotiations with Harlingen

dfwnewsa | November 1, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

HARLINGEN — The Rio Grande Valley Humane Society is proposing revisions to a city contract organizers and animal rights groups argue would open the Harlingen shelter to strays, forcing the “no-kill” leader into more euthanasia.

In a meeting Wednesday, city commissioners were set to meet in closed session with City Attorney Mark Sossi “to receive privileged attorney-client communication regarding the Humane Society,” the meeting’s agenda states.

“It’s just to talk about contract negotiations,” Mayor Norma Sepulveda said before the meeting.

Following the closed-door discussion, commissioners will “probably not” take action when they return into open session, City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said.

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In September, Luis Quintanilla, the Humane Society’s executive director, along with animal rights groups, argued the city’s proposed contract would lead the shelter to accept more dogs and cats, forcing the agency priding itself as the region’s “no-kill” leader to euthanize more animals.

Meanwhile, Sepulveda said officials proposed the Humane Society’s shelter help Harlingen residents find homes for dogs and cats they can’t care for.

In response to heated concerns, commissioners agreed to grant the Humane Society a 120-day extension on its current contract giving the nonprofit $400,000 a year, while Sepulveda called on the parties to “negotiate” a new agreement.

For weeks, officials have been requesting the Humane Society present detailed financial information to determine whether the agency is using the city’s $400,000 contribution to serve Harlingen residents, Sepulveda said.

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As they work to revise the agreement, commissioners requested Quintanilla and the Humane Society’s board members propose contract changes, she said before Wednesday’s meeting.

During the closed-door meeting, commissioners were expected to consider the Humane Society’s proposed revisions.

“They weren’t happy with the way it was drafted,” Sepulveda said in an interview, referring to the city’s proposal. “We asked them if there was anything you disagree with. We wanted them to provide alternative language.”

Staff members work at the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society at Harlingen delivering puppies to a foster family Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

Before the meeting, Quintanilla and board President Lillian Kim did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, officials continue awaiting the Humane Society’s responses to their requests aimed at compiling detailed financial information from the nonprofit partly funded through the city’s annual $400,000 contribution along with Mission’s $400,000 match.

“I still have not received the list of items we requested, so that’s concerning,” Sepulveda said.

Late last month, Quintanilla said he was meeting with the Humane Society’s “key” board members to discuss the city’s requests.

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After falling short of an Oct. 13 deadline, the Humane Society presented its August and September 2023 financial reports on Oct. 20, Assistant City Manager Josh Ramirez said.

As part of a city report, officials are compiling information showing the Human Society’s annual revenue stood at $1.4 million in 2022, $798,154 in 2021, $747,986 in 2020, $856,881 in 2019, $1 million in 2018 and $1.1 million in 2017.

At City Hall, officials are requesting a “comprehensive annual report for 2022,” financial information for August and September 2023, the 2024 budget along with Internal Revenue Service 990 forms covering 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The city’s also requesting lists of grants for the which the Humane Society applied in 2022 and 2023, lists of spay and neuter clinics the agency held during 2022 and 2023 along with lists of spay and neuter recipients as well as each clinic’s revenue.

Officials are also requesting the Humane Society present dates of vaccination clinics it held during 2022 and 2023, a list of the services’ recipients along with each clinic’s revenue.

The requests also include lists of the Humane Society’s veterinarians during 2022 and 2023, lists of animal rescues during 2022 and 2023, lists of its board members with their meeting dates and locations, along with lists of the shelter’s employees and salaries, with written adoption and fostering policies as well as the agency’s euthanasia policy.

RGV Humane Society proposes revisions during contract negotiations with Harlingen 2
Executive Director Luis Quintanilla at the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society holds a kitten ready for a forever home Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

As commissioners revise the proposed contract, officials are requesting the Humane Society acknowledge “the city animal shelter serves as an impoundment and holding facility for animals that have been involved in an animal bite and which are being held for observation and shall also conduct animal adoption procedures, animal sterilizations, educational programs and other programs and hold lost animals for recovery by owner.”

As part of the contract, officials are requesting the “society keep the shelter in a safe and sanitary condition at all times and accept all animals impounded by animal control officers found running at large in the city or impounded for observation following a dog bite.”

The “society may also accept dogs or cats brought (to) the shelter by citizens, provided … that at no time shall (the) society permit more than 92 dogs, 30 cats and 10 puppies (under three months) at the shelter without the written consent of the city manager,” officials stated.

“Furthermore, (the) society will assume the responsibility for all interior furniture and furnishings,” they stated. “Failure of the society to pay the costs for parking and/or furnish interior furniture and furnishings shall be cause to terminate this contract.”

Since 2020, the Humane Society has prided itself as a “no-kill” shelter.

“The RGV Humane Society is the Rio Grande Valley’s only no-kill animal shelter and it is our mission to make the entire region a safer place for pets,” the organization states on its website.

“In the last two years, our work has saved the lives of over 10,000 homeless pets and has served over 15,000 additional pets through our low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination services,” the website states.

The post RGV Humane Society proposes revisions during contract negotiations with Harlingen appeared first on MyRGV.com.

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