MUSKEGON, Mich. - The future of Pound Buddies, an animal shelter in Muskegon County, is no longer in doubt.

When the shelter’s contract with Muskegon County was up, the county sought bids for an animal control and shelter service provider.

At the commissioners meeting Thursday, the Ways & Means Committee voted to recommend Pound Buddies be awarded the contract again.

“We were so happy, very thrilled, that we will continue to be the service provider for Muskegon County,” said Lana Carson, the director at Pound Buddies Animal Shelter.

Pound Buddies began in 1998, and has been Muskegon County’s service provider since it put animal shelter operations up for bid in 2010.

“When we go out for bids we do that with all of our contracts, Pound Buddies' contract previously had been for three years, this is the third time they've been out,” said Muskegon County Commissioner Susie Hughes of District 3.

This was the first year Pound Buddies was bid against.

“We received two, we received the first one from Pound Buddies, and another one this year from a place called Pay It Forward," Hughes said. "They're a veterinary clinic.”

Pound Buddies was the lowest bid with a proposal for a three-year contract including $235,000 a year for shelter services and $32,000 a year for animal control services.

“The remaining money, about 50 to 60 percent, comes from grant writing, fundraising, and the generous donations of people who support this cause,” Carson said.

Hughes said the the proposal from Pound Buddies was considerably lower in price.

“They were obviously capable and licensed to care for animals, and they have already taken over our dog catcher positions,” Hughes said.

The Ways & Means Committee vote puts an end to tensions between supporters of Pound Buddies and county officials.

“I think it was just misunderstanding," Hughes said. "I think for some reason this year, that never happened before, but for this year I believe Pound Buddies thought we were trying to replace them rather than just go out for bids.”

It’s county policy to rebid for the service, but some residents worried a new provider would euthanize animals to save money.

“It's not unusual to receive 1 or 2 calls maybe, but one weekend I had like 140 between emails and phone calls," Hughes said. "I feel like this was initiated by Pound Buddies because I think they were afraid they would lose the contract.”

Carson said people are passionate about animals, and want to ensure the ones at the shelter are well taken care of.

“To have an organization that would have to go through the learning process of the pace around here, some of the conditions of the building, some of the things that we have become accustomed to and worked through, to have somebody come in and learn that all over again, it would be at the sacrifice of the animals,” Carson said.

The Muskegon County Board of Commissioners will make the final approval on Dec. 11.

“They do a great job for the county, but I do feel it was good that we went out for bids," said Muskegon County Commissioner Gary Foster of District 7. "I think it was a very fair process.”

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