BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A financial discussion between local officials and the Humane Society of Raleigh County raises the question of whether it’s time for local spay-and-neuter laws.

The Humane Society of Raleigh County operates the largest no-kill shelter in the state, according to executive director Brett Kees.

Kee says that last year, 1,837 came through the shelter.

Most years, the City of Beckley pays $60,000 to $66,000 from the municipal budget, and Raleigh County pays a similar amount. Stray dogs from the city and county are taken by Animal Control to the shelter.

Although the city’s contribution is about 10% of the shelter’s animal budget, Kees says, there is no way for the shelter to guarantee a spot for every animal that Animal Control brings. The shelter has had to turn away animals, he reported but has accepted a number of animals at the shelter’s cost.

The shelter is non-profit and funded mainly from private donations, according to Kees.

“The county has, you know, offered up solutions like adding on a kennel and things like that, but they haven’t offered up more funding and they also haven’t offered up real solutions,” he said.

Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said the city and county have plans to build a shelter that is funded jointly in order to guarantee that when a vicious animal is picked up, it will have a place to go.

He said it’s unfair to taxpayers if there is no place for stray or vicious dogs and that the city had expected to have reserved spaces, based on the years of donations.

“We would relieve the humane society of that obligation we feel they owe us to always have a kennel space for dogs when we need them,” said Rappold.

Rappold said the county shelter will likely have the option to kill dogs but that the city would rather work with rescue organizations from out of state.

“We don’t want to run a kill shelter,” said the mayor. “We actually talked to or had some correspondence with, agencies that pick up dogs.

Kees said his shelter also works with those agencies and that all agencies in the state and surrounding states are overwhelmed and not accepting strays, as a rule.

He said it is time for the county and city to pass laws that require owners to spay and neuter their pets.

“There are shelters all around the country begging for people to take animals, and that’s because these municipalities refuse to pass regulations because it’s harder than developing a kill shelter,” Kees added.

He said the shelter on Friday was caring for 104 animals but will remain a no-kill shelter.