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Animal control gets regional home, shelter

Officials approve agreements at former motorcycle dealership

After nearly five years of public debate, Spokane city and county officials on Monday said they will open a new regional animal control facility within a year. And residents won’t have to pay higher taxes to pay for the expanded system, officials said.

Spokane County expects to take the next 11 months remodeling a former Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership at 6815 E. Trent Ave. into a new $4 million home for stray and unwanted animals.

County commissioners convened a short meeting Monday at the former dealership to approve two agreements with the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley on creating the countywide animal protection agency.

Mayors David Condon of Spokane and Tom Towey of Spokane Valley joined commissioners along with other public officials and animal agency personnel.

The city of Spokane will join the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service for the first time.

Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood and Cheney will continue to use SCRAPS for their animal control service.

Monday’s meeting sets the stage for closing the $1.7 million purchase of the 30,000-square-foot building and its three-acre parcel. Another $2.3 million or more will go toward building improvements.

SCRAPS has been operating since 1972 out of a much smaller facility in northeastern Spokane Valley that currently has 11,500 square feet of space. That building is owned by the county roads department.

County Commissioner Todd Mielke said of the new facility’s advantages, “We are on an arterial. We are on bus routes. We are visible.”

When completed, residents will have a single location to reunite with lost pets as well as a single animal enforcement agency.

Other animal welfare agencies, including SpokAnimal, the Spokane Humane Society and Pet Savers, will continue to help residents with adoptions and obtaining veterinary care such as spaying and neutering.

The new facility will be large enough to allow other small cities to join the system.

In Spokane, city voters in 2008 rejected a tax measure that would have funded Spokane’s participation in a larger facility. Then in 2011, county voters rejected another tax to build an animal shelter.

The earlier proposal called for spending $15 million.

Mielke said the new plan was fashioned after voters said no to taxes for a new building. The Latus Motors building was chosen because of its size, cost and central location in Spokane Valley.

Nancy Hill, executive director of SCRAPS, said the new building is “going to be a wonderful resource for the community.”

As many as 140 dog kennels will be grouped into pods with separate air handling systems to prevent an outbreak of disease. SCRAPS now has 78 dog kennels.

The cat room will have 98 cages, up from 55.

The parcel has plenty of room for a dog walking area and an isolation room.

In joining the regional system, the city of Spokane is ending its 30-year arrangement with SpokAnimal for animal control services. Employees laid off by the changes will be encouraged to apply at SCRAPS.

The city of Spokane will pay the county $561,000, which represents no increase in current costs for animal control through SpokAnimal.