QUINCY -- Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic's $138,700 bid for Quincy's animal control contract was not the lowest bid submitted to the city, but it was deemed the best option by members of the Quincy City Council.
Aldermen voted on Monday to award the city's animal shelter contract, which is valid for the next five years, to Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic. The second bid, which was submitted by Homeward Bound Waggin, was for $132,000.
The vote to award the contract was 11-2. Aldermen Mike Rein, R-5, and Tony Sassen, R-4, voted against the contract. There remains one vacancy on the city council.
Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley supported the clinic, despite the difference in cost.
"It is one of those really tough issues, and I take the responsibility of recommending contracts, especially on an important issue such as animal control, very seriously," Copley said. "My main reason for recommending Western (Illinois Veterinary Clinic) is that they are a tried and true business model. They've got the experience. They've got a long history of service, and I am confident that they will be around during the entire duration of the contract."
He said other factors influencing his decision were the clinic's staff -- which includes five veterinarians -- and the clinic's history of also serving as the county's animal shelter.
"I felt that was huge," Copley said. "I feel that is very important."
Prior to the vote, numerous members of the Quincy community vocalized their support for either Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic or Homeward Bound Waggin.
Ronna Robertson was among those speaking in support of Homeward Bound Waggin. She expressed her concerns that the veterinary clinic's policy on euthanizing animals, especially dogs.
She said the clinic reportedly had euthanized 115 animals over the three years of the current contract and that their euthanization rates classified them as a kill shelter, per American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals guidelines.
"More than 95% of the animals at Homeward Bound Waggin would have been euthanized if they had been taken there," Robertson said.
Other speakers supporting the Homeward Bound Waggin, a not-for-profit animal rescue organization, were Susan Hiatt, who admonished the majority of aldermen for not taking a tour of the Homeward Bound Waggin facility before Monday night's meeting.
Melissa Austin-Gundel, a veterinarian at the clinic, refuted many of the concerns raised by supporters of Homeward Bound Waggin.
"In 2018, of the 569 animals brought in during that animal only 39 euthanized," Austin-Gundel said. "We only complete euthanization under very strict circumstances."
She said those circumstances include those animals who are extremely sick, severely injured or an animal who would pose a public health risk if it was released.
Austin-Gundel was joined in speaking in support of the Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic by Brandy Blickhan Ridder and Jenny Benjamin, who identified herself as a former Adams County Animal Warden.