Pet disposal is the burning question for commissioners

UPDATE: Grand Traverse County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night in favor of cremating euthanized animals. Officials are now reviewing proposals from three local pet crematoriums before making a final decision. The disposal process will change once a contract is signed.

Grand Traverse County Commissioners are meeting Wednesday night to decide whether taxpayers should pay a fee to cremate euthanized animals or continue to dispose of them in a landfill.

Tom Buss who is both the Director of Environmental Health and Animal Control Manager for Grand Traverse County says the disposal process is the same for most counties in Michigan. Dogs or cats are put down, then wrapped in a black plastic bag, and placed in a freezer. The animals stay there until they're carried to a dumpster where they are hauled off to a landfill.

Tom Buss says, "These are dogs that come in and are aggressive and not adoptable."

In 2011, 46 dogs were euthanized in Grand Traverse County. Buss says the current process isn't hazardous to the environment, but local animal groups have been emailing and calling concerned. Many say they want another option.

"We do have local pet crematoriums so we're looking into that option." says Buss.

The Health and Safety Committee will hear a plan that would cost taxpayers about $9 per dog for cremation.

Great Lakes Pet Memorial Owner, Kerri Collier says, "The proposal is a very much discounted rate just to make sure animals are disposed of properly."

If the animal cremation option is chosen the dumpster cost would still remain. It would, however, be a reduced cost since the Animal Control would require fewer pickups.

The average cost of the dumpster service is about $308 per year.

Animal rights group, PETA believes cremation is a safer method of disposal because some chemicals used in the euthanization process can endanger wild animals if they injest it.

In a statement to 7&4 News an organization spokesperson goes on to say, "It is a tragedy that animal shelters are faced with the heartbreaking task of having to euthanize unwanted animals cast off by callous or irresponsible people. The logistical considerations of what to do with euthanized animals should alert the community to the fact that they can help prevent this in the first place by always spaying or neutering, adopting from animal shelters, and never buying from pet shops or breeders."

We asked our UpNorthLive Facebook fans how they think. The majority agree cremation should be the only way animals should be disposed.

Facebook fan, " data-hovercard="/ajax/hovercard/user.php?id=1431713548"}Deb Wieske, wrote: "Cremation. For the same reason that you would not accept your loved one being laid to rest in a landfill!"

Another fan, Jamie Stearns, wrote about the cost of cremation and who should foot the bill. "I don't think the tax payers should pay a fee though, unless you mandate that ALL animals be fixed (which you can't do because how would you get pure-bread animals)

I think that if you have a pet and its NOT fixed then you should pay a tax, but if your pets are fixed then you shouldn't."

Get in on the conversation and tell us what you think! You can also vote in the poll below about the cost of cremation and if you would be willing to pay more in taxes for the service.