As she does every Monday evening before a regularly scheduled city council meeting, Mayor Ginger Snead hosted her bi-weekly town hall meeting at the Marathon Fire Station and invited residents concerned with animal control service to voice their opinion.

Though this week’s meeting wasn’t as well attended as one regarding the future of The Brass Monkey Bar and Package Store where over 200 people packed the meeting room, numerous residents spoke on their wishes for the future of animal control service in the Middle Keys.

“This isn’t a city problem, it’s a community problem,” Snead opened the meeting. “Right now, we have no dog in the fight.”

Prompted by a steady flow of complaints about services currently offered at the shelter followed by at least three emails each day “on this matter alone” Snead said it appears residents desire to bring animal control service in-house with the City of Marathon.

She cautioned that the process of re-routing the tax dollars currently collected from Monroe County residents back through Marathon’s local government could take months and would require good communication and cooperation.

“If you want us to start investigating an interlocal agreement (ILA) with the county, then let us know that,” she urged. “Until we hear from you, we can’t move forward.”

Vice Mayor Mike Cinque suggested that Stand Up for Animals – the former provider of animal control services in both Marathon and Big Pine – had their accounting practices called into question just after the contract for providing fire service to Key Colony Beach was up in the air between Marathon and Monroe County governments.

“I feel like this turned into a turf war after the turf war we had with fire service,” he said. “I can’t speak for the council, but I think this is where we need to put pressure on the county commission.”

Dr. Mike Dunn, DVM, questioned the feasibility of that suggestion.

“Haven’t we tried to do this before, and there was an issue getting the money back?” he asked.

Snead reiterated that a petition currently circulating among concerned residents must be formally presented to the Marathon City Council so staff could draft a formal letter to county commissioners.

“That’s how we’re going to get what we want,” Snead suggested to the crowd. “Once they start seeing more than one letter come in, that’s when they’ll start reacting.”

Dr. Dunn, currently working with a group of citizens to establish a non-profit organization to bid on animal control services should the city put it out to bid, said that though the ideal plan is to have the city take over, “we need to prepare for contingencies.”

Snead echoed his sentiments that even if the City of Marathon does bring animal control services in house, they would seek out a group that aims to operate a no-kill facility. She concluded that the major goal would be to have a no-kill shelter under the auspices of the city and to foster a community of children who understand the ethical treatment of animals.

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