February 2, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Regional partnership will benefit people, pets

 

One place to find a lost pet: check.

One place to license a pet: check.

One place that fills the needs of a growing metropolitan area without raising taxes: check.

Consistent enforcement of animal control laws: check.

It’s been a long, frustrating journey, but the regional animal control partnership among Spokane County governments could very well be a better deal than any of the previous proposals.

It certainly checks all the boxes.

The cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley have opted to join forces with Spokane County, which will bring about a new regional animal control shelter that is scheduled for opening at the beginning of next year. Spokane Valley had been pondering a move to SpokAnimal, but chose to say with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. The city of Spokane will be using SCRAPS for the first time after agreeing to a 20-year contract.

The county bought a former motorcycle dealership at 6815 E. Trent Ave., and is remodeling it into a new $4 million home for lost and unwanted animals. The location west of Park Road is more central than the current one and is on a bus line. Though the facility will be smaller than the one rejected by voters in the fall of 2011, SCRAPS officials say it should be sufficient because animal intake numbers have dropped due to the successful efforts of pet welfare programs.

SCRAPS was in need of a new shelter because the current one was too small, lacked sewer lines and had no nearby fire hydrant. Plus, a state audit ruled that SCRAPS would have to begin paying into the county roads fund. Voters turned down a $15 million request for a regional site and system. But Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke kept at it, and the product of his steadfast leadership – and that of other officials who worked out this agreement – will be a new facility with no new taxes.

This deal ends the city of Spokane’s five-year quest for a better animal control solution. The city has used the services of SpokAnimal, but its facilities are inadequate for comprehensive animal control. In 2008 and 2011, voters said no to proposals for larger facilities. We advocated the latest measure for a new county shelter, but it looks as if the voters’ wariness will be rewarded.

The city will pay the county $561,000 per year, which is what it was paying SpokAnimal. SCRAPS will keep licensing fees, which are $25 for dogs and $15 for cats. If the need arises for higher fees, all regional partners would have to agree. The hope is that more people will be encouraged to license their pets, which would forestall cost increases for responsible pet owners.

This new partnership represents a significant breakthrough, and we hope it becomes a model for other regional government solutions. The region owes a debt of gratitude for all who made it happen.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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