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Pet Adoption

John Manning stands with his newly adopted dog, Pancho, at the front desk of Metro Animal Shelter on July 25.

If you owned a business and two major customers walked away, you’d start to ask questions. The departures might be nothing more than bad luck or bad timing, but it would be nevertheless be wise to review your operations and ask: Is there something we should be doing different? Are we the reason customers are walking away?

Such is the situation now facing the city of Casper, whose Metro Animal Services has already lost one major client and appears to be in danger of losing a second.

Metro does more than serve as a shelter and tend to animal issues within the city of Casper. Other nearby communities, which don’t have their own shelters or animal control officers, contract with Metro for services. The arrangement benefits both parties. The city receives more income, while neighboring suburbs receive services that they might not be able to operate as affordably on their own.

But last year, the town of Mills decided it would not use Metro any longer. And now the town of Evansville is moving forward with a similar plan, though it hasn’t yet made a final decision.

Evansville Mayor Jennifer Sorenson has offered several reasons for the potential split. For one, the two municipalities are far apart on what the services should cost Evansville. Sorensen said her town budgeted $70,000 for animal control services this year, but Metro is asking for $117,000.

Sorenson also cited communication problems between Evansville and Metro, and said Metro’s response times are often longer than what town officials consider reasonable.

All of those reasons are concerning. And if two of Casper’s neighbors ultimately drop Metro as their animal control provider, it should at the very least raise questions among city officials as well.

It’s possible that this is simply a matter of different officials disagreeing on the value of a service. But the fact that Mills has dropped Metro, and Evansville is now considering following suit – all in the space of about a year – suggests that city leaders should examine the situation and determine whether there are indeed issues related to response time and communication, and whether they extend beyond those two towns. Do Casper residents experience similar issues?

And why are the towns now finding the costs of Metro’s services aren’t affordable? Why are they willing to take on the added expense and hassle of hiring their own animal control officers – and in the case of Evansville – possibly building their own shelter?

There could be perfectly reasonable explanations for all of those questions, and if that’s indeed the case, good for Metro and the city. But there is enough smoke here for city leaders to check that a fire isn’t burning. Our residents deserve to know whether Metro is operating effectively, and if not, what steps can be taken to change course. It’s time to ask some questions.

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