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Humane Society Rejects City Strays Agency Says It Can’t Afford To Renew Contract

The Spokane Humane Society, which has sheltered homeless dogs and cats for more than 100 years, won’t take in the city’s strays after today.

The strapped-for-cash agency no longer will accept pets that animal-control officers pick up within the city limits.

It will shelter only animals dropped off by their owners or good Samaritans, director Susan Canterbury said Monday. “Our decisions are based on what’s best for the animals we take care of.”

Money, however, was at the root of the decision.

The Humane Society loses nearly $11,000 per month under a city contract to house Spokane’s strays, Canterbury said, and the financial strain has become too much for the nonprofit organization.

SpokAnimal CARE, another nonprofit agency, has a contract to pick up the city’s strays and deliver them to the Humane Society shelter on North Havana.

“We don’t have the financial ability to keep taking care of all of them,” Canterbury said. “Under the current contract, we cannot keep subsidizing it with donations.”

That contract, which pays the Humane Society about $4,000 per month, expires today.

The Humane Society took in nearly 12,000 cats and dogs between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, about half of them city strays, she said.

Canterbury blamed city officials for being slow to award a new contract that will consolidate shelter and animal control services.

The Humane Society bid for the consolidated contract and has been waiting since the end of June for an answer, she said.

“We told them in June that we weren’t going to extend the current contract,” Canterbury said.

City officials hoped the Humane Society board members would change their mind and keep housing strays until January, when the new five-year contract is supposed to be awarded.

Now, they are working to fashion a short-term contract with SpokAnimal to shelter the animals until the first of the year, said Dave Mandyke, assistant city manager.

“They’re our safety net at this point,” Mandyke said. “They’re the only choice we have.”

SpokAnimal Director Gail Mackie said her organization is launching an aggressive adoption campaign to make room for the loose pets that will soon be coming to its shelter.

SpokAnimal has room for 56 dogs and about 65 cats, Mackie said. That’s about half the capacity of the Humane Society.

As of Monday evening, 15 dogs and 22 cats were being held at SpokAnimal’s shelter on North Freya. “We’re going to be trying to move these guys out of here,” Mackie said. “We’ll be making some deals, while still screening owners, of course.”

The organization is expanding its headquarters in anticipation of landing the consolidated city contract, but that work probably won’t be done until the first of the year, Mackie said.

“It’s going to be a little ragged to start up, but we’ll manage,” she said.

No one would say what impact the upheaval will have on the adoption chances of homeless dogs and cats picked up between now and January.

Mackie said she would hold strays as long as she has room. It’s not clear what will happen if SpokAnimal runs out of space for the strays.

By law, animal control agencies must hold strays for 72 hours before killing them.

After that, shelters must make room for discarded pets found rummaging through garbage cans and running loose through neighborhoods.

“When you have only so much room and so many funds, some animals might not get as much of a chance as others,” Canterbury said.

, DataTimes