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Some commissioners raise issues with animal euthanasia services bidding process

Pike County company gets contract anyway

Questions were raised Tuesday about the bidding process used for euthanization services at the Clayton County Police Department’s Animal Control Center. Commissioner Michael Edmondson said some local vets told him they didn’t bid for the contract because county officials told them the winning bidder, Pike County Mobile Pet Care, would likely have the lowest rates. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Questions were raised Tuesday about the bidding process used for euthanization services at the Clayton County Police Department’s Animal Control Center. Commissioner Michael Edmondson said some local vets told him they didn’t bid for the contract because county officials told them the winning bidder, Pike County Mobile Pet Care, would likely have the lowest rates. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

JONESBORO — A Pike County-based veterinarian narrowly won the right to continue euthanizing cats and dogs at the Clayton County Animal Control facility Tuesday after some county commissioners questioned the bidding process.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to let the police department continue using Pike County Mobile Pet Care’s services for its Animal Control Division, but Vice-Chairwoman Shana Rooks and Commissioner Michael Edmondson voted against the measure. Edmondson, in particular, raised several questions about the bidding process during a pre-meeting work session.

The new contract includes a new $65 trip fee for services provided during regular business hours. The previous contract required a trip fee only for after-hours services.

Edmondson raised issue with whether local veterinarians were discouraged from bidding on the contract.

“We didn’t get any other bids,” said Edmondson. “I was talking with some of the local vets and they were like, ‘Well there was no use in bidding because you guys told us these guys were going to be so cheap.’ But with an extra couple thousand dollars a year in transportation fees, do we want to look at paying someone to drive from Pike County?”

By agreeing to renew the contract with Pike County Mobile Pet Care, commissioners have agreed to pay the veterinarian $25 per dog, $15 per cat and the $65 trip fee for euthanasia services, according to county documents.

Edmondson said that since the company provides the service twice a week, the county would end up paying $130 for the week. He said the county could end up paying for 50 weeks of visits per year. That means the county would annually end up paying at least $6,500 in trip fees to the vet.

“No one else bid on it, but this is amended from the previous contract to include that [fee], which is going to be a couple thousand dollars a year,” said Edmondson.

But officials from the county’s police and central services departments insist the bidding process was properly carried out and that Pike County Mobile Pet Care was properly forwarded to commissioners for approval.

“No one else responded to the bid,” police Deputy Chief Chris Butler told Edmondson.

Central Services Director Theodis Locke confirmed the company was the only bidder after two attempts to solicit bids. He said the contract will last one year.

County documents show the police department’s previous agreement from 2010 only required the trip fee to be paid for after-hours services. The new agreement requires it be paid for services provided during regular business hours as well.

But Edmondson said he had received several complaints over the years about Animal Control operations, but he did not specify what those complaints were about.

However, he added the euthanasia is not performed by Pike County Mobile Pet Care’s licensed veterinarian, but rather by her husband.

“She supervises him,” said police legal advisor Ken Green.

“From Pike County, because she’s sick,” Edmondson countered.

The contract stipulates that the euthanizations will be performed “outside of the public view” although police department personnel will monitor the practices used.

Rooks also raised questions about a clause in the agreement with the company that says it will decide whether an animal is classified as a “wild animal.” Green said state law says only veterinarians are allowed to make that decision.

The contract states the determination of whether an animal is “exhibiting dangerous and/or aggressive behavior” will be “determined by visual inspection of each animal at the time it is presented for euthanasia.”

But Edmondson pointed out the vet is not making that decision in person.

“She’s supervising from two counties over while we’re paying her husband $65 a day to come up here,” he said.

Edmondson said he doesn’t disagree that veterinarian services are needed at Animal Control, but he did re-iterate that he took issue with amending the contract to pay Pike County Mobile Pet Care more money.

“We’ve received so much negative feedback over the years and we’re amending the contract because they’re the only ones that bid on it and saying that’s good enough instead of, I don’t know, exploring other things,” he said.