Animal control partnership between Lincoln, Cumberland being assessed

Animal control partnership between Lincoln, Cumberland being assessed

LINCOLN – A one-year partnership agreement between animal control departments in Lincoln and Cumberland, with Cumberland services housed in Lincoln, expired last August, but the two neighboring communities have continued on under the same terms since.

Cumberland Mayor Jeff Mutter said he had some conversations with Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond early in his term about the agreement signed before he won election in late 2018, but they haven’t really discussed the partnership since.

That agreement called for a $1,000-per-month fee to be paid by Cumberland to Lincoln for use of the shelter at 25 Wellington Road in Lincoln, with each community maintaining their own staffers. Smithfield also now shares the shelter, for a three-town regionalization of services.

The agreement signed by former Mayor Bill Murray was heralded at the time as a way to avoid costly repairs at Cumberland’s Martin Street animal shelter, and Mutter later turned the building over to the New England Humane Society to do major upgrades in exchange for use of the building.

Mutter said this week that he’s still not ready to characterize his assessment “of the whole animal control situation” as being entirely pleased with it.

“I’m more inclined to like to keep things in house,” he said. “Once you farm it out, you don’t have much control of the day-to-day.”

The partnership is working, he said, but he’s assessing the situation and is not sure how it will ultimately play out.

Asked about Cumberland’s animal control functions overall, Mutter said he’s not satisfied.

“Our response could be better,” he said. “Lincoln, they’re fine. Whatever disappointment I have is on our end, not their end.”

The partnership between Cumberland, Susan Joseph and the New England Humane Society, as well as that group’s extensive repairs to that building, could present an opportunity of some kind for the future, Mutter said.

Almond said this week that everything has been going very well from his standpoint with both Cumberland and Lincoln. The shelter has a “30-day population” of about six dogs, or six dogs in the shelter at the end of each month.

“That number seems to demonstrate why we did this in the first place,” he said. “Separately we’d probably be down to two dogs.”

From a logical standpoint, on both managing operations and budgeting, the partnership seems to make sense, said Almond.

Lincoln’s town administrator had originally emphasized the diminished need for capacity, with often only four or five dogs at the shelter, as a solid reason for regionalizing the service.