(Jan. 16, 2018) Reclaim fees are always under review at the Humane Society of the Black Hills. What people should pay to reclaim a cat or dog that has been brought in as a stray is always a question and, frankly, one we struggle with.

The challenge in determining reclaim fees is that they need to reflect the cost of care while the animal is here, contribute to the mission of the Humane Society, and, most importantly, be fair.

The reclaim fees have changed over the years and on Jan. 2 the fees changed again. These changes, we feel, better reflect the needs of the community and contribute to the welfare of the animals.

The new cat reclaim fee is $75 up to the fourth day; dog reclaim fees will be $100 (altered animal) and $150 for an unaltered animal. The fee for animals that have been here long enough to be spayed or neutered in preparation for the adopt floor has been updated as well, but is still very reasonable.

So, how do the new fees better reflect the needs of the community and contribute to the welfare of the animals? By stabilizing the fees and, generally, decreasing them across the board for most people.

Prior to this new rate structure, reclaim fees were based on several factors and often just seemed to add up to a bigger number than some folks felt comfortable with. Of course, the new reclaim fee structure doesn’t drastically reduce fees, but it will smooth out the rough edges that might have caused a few gasps over time.

And that is how the new reclaim fees contribute to the welfare of the animal: By creating fees people will be able to better afford and, therefore, less likely lead them to surrender their pets.

Another change to the reclaim policy addresses those frequent visitors to the kennel — those dogs that show up again, and again, and again.

On an animal’s third visit, the owner will be given a citation with a required court appearance to explain to a judge why the animal is being unattended and what’s being done to correct it.

Clearly the citation/court appearance required for the third visit is a punitive action that’s designed to encourage keeping those hard-to-handle pets at home. We don’t want pets here, we want them home with their owners, safe and sound, and we hope a citation will help accomplish that.

Adjusting to changes at the Humane Society, as it would in any business, creates a constant ebb and flow as we seek equilibrium in what’s best for the community and what’s best for the animals. We’ll keep trying our best, changing policies here and there to adjust. Some changes will work, some won’t, but we’ll keep working to provide shelter services that meet the varied needs of a bustling community.