July 1, 2012 in City

Animal control consolidation plan pursued

Mielke: Building fits county animal needs
By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke wants to turn this former Harley-Davidson dealership building at 6815 E. Trent Ave. into a regional animal control facility.
(Full-size photo)

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The progress in pet welfare comes at time when local officials are considering a new proposal for consolidation of animal control.

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke is pushing a plan that would bring the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley into a county-operated system through Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS).

Mielke wants to turn a former Harley-Davidson dealership building at 6815 E. Trent Ave. into a new regional facility. The county has secured a purchase offer that is good through the end of August.

Unlike a costlier proposal that was rejected by voters last year, Mielke’s new plan would be accomplished with existing revenue. Spokane and Spokane Valley would pay the same amount they are paying now for animal control, he said.

Other agencies would continue to operate shelter and adoption programs.

Measure 1 last fall asked for $15 million in new funding for a regional system.

The new proposal would work with $4.5 million of investment, but it hinges on participation of the two cities.

The ability to offer a less-expensive service comes from the growing success of local pet welfare programs, which are reducing the number of unwanted animals, said Nancy Hill, director of SCRAPS.

As a result, the current proposal for the former Latus Motors building has about 12,000 fewer square feet than the proposal for a new building in Measure 1 last year.

“Because the intake has gone down, we felt comfortable reducing the square footage” needed for a regional operation, Hill said.

Elected officials at both cities are considering their options.

The Spokane Valley City Council last week decided to seek proposals from both the county and SpokAnimal, which provides services to the city of Spokane.

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey said that seeking proposals “helps ensure citizens are getting animal control services that are important to them at a fair price.”

The existing SCRAPS shelter has serious deficiencies, including lack of space, no sewer lines and no nearby fire hydrant. Plus, its location on Flora Road is inconvenient.

“We have a pretty serious need to move,” Hill said.

The county road department owns the building, and the state auditor’s office ruled that SCRAPS must start paying rent to the road fund next year.

Those problems have been driving county commissioners to seek a new facility under a countywide system.

The county’s push to create a regional system has triggered a bit of a scramble to provide contract services to the two cities.

“Who’s to say we are not the ones to do it?” said Gail Mackie, executive director of SpokAnimal.

SpokAnimal, which has provided animal control to the city for more than two decades, would lose the enforcement part of its operation if the city decides to join the county proposal.

Mielke said SpokAnimal could continue to be an important shelter and adoption service even with regionalization.

The Spokane Humane Society, which offers shelter, adoption and spay-neuter services, is supporting regionalization, said Dave Richardson, executive director.

Proponents of the countywide system said it would create a single location for pet owners to go look for a lost animal. It would also provide a single pet license for the cities and unincorporated area.

It would bring consistent enforcement of animal laws, including those involving dangerous and potentially dangerous animals, Hill and others said.

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