DADE CITY — New Port Richey's animal control program could soon be back in county hands.
Pasco commissioners Tuesday approved an agreement to take back animal services from New Port Richey after its pool of dozens of local volunteers dwindled sharply.
The city is set to vote on the agreement next Tuesday. If approved, the county will resume animal collections and adoptions for New Port Richey starting in February. New Port Richey started its volunteer-based program in 2012.
The move caps a tumultous year in which the program struggled to stay afloat.
Volunteer director Sharon McReynolds told city leaders last month that she planned to resign Dec. 31, after her husband, Jeff, the program's sole animal collector, quit a month earlier. She said the program had dwindled to one full-time volunteer.
The county already provides animal control services to Dade City, San Antonio, St. Leo and Zephyrhills, in addition to the unincorporated areas.
Under the agreement's terms, New Port Richey will pay the county $113,000 this fiscal year for animal services, plus $84,400 yearly after that.
Staff said the county will use the funds to puchase a van for rescue and adoptions and hire two part-time workers, in addition to a possible full-time rescue coordinator.
"Sometimes you can't do these things with volunteers," County Commissioner Pal Mulieri said. "You need paid staff."
Rich Shopes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6236.
This article has been updated to reflect the following clarification: New Port Richey first contacted Pasco County in 2008, requesting the county take over its animal control services. The two governments signed an agreement in 2009. In 2012, the city ended that agreement and started its own program, which ended in December. On Tuesday, the county agreed to again handle the city's animal services.