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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

CdA animal shelter may go nonprofit to raise money

Christopher Rodkey Staff writer

Coeur d’Alene’s animal shelter may become a nonprofit organization to raise money for improvements demanded by state regulators.

The Coeur d’Alene Animal Shelter is offering the city several options to deal with problems that arose when state Department of Agriculture officials found several violations during a Dec. 29 inspection, said Joe Kunka, spokesman for the Watson Agency, a private firm that runs the shelter and contracts with the city for services.

The shelter needs about $50,000 to install new equipment, such as a ventilation system, and make other improvements to the kennels, Kunka said. The company will ask the city if it wants to pay for all of the improvements and might also ask to increase the monthly payment to the shelter by about $3,500, to $7,500, he said.

Watson also suggested the city could convert the shelter to a nonprofit organization headed by a board of directors. That way, the shelter could receive donations from citizens looking to make tax-deductible contributions, Kunka said.

“We would isolate the shelter as its own entity,” Kunka said. “It’s a proposal on the table and it’s one way we could alleviate all of this.”

If the shelter goes nonprofit, the Watson Agency would continue to provide commercial animal control services for the city and would contract with the shelter to house the animals.

The changes come on the heels of a Jan. 2 letter from Department of Agriculture official Bill Barton citing 10 issues at the shelter, ranging from incorrect food dishes for animals to poor drainage and ventilation leading to a buildup of sewage. The state set a deadline of today to have the issues corrected.

Workers at the shelter have been working to improve several of the issues, Kunka said. Easily chewed plastic food dishes were replaced with metal bowls, and food storage facilities were made vermin-proof.

State officials recently walked through the facility and said progress had been made, Kunka said. The bigger items, such as the ventilation system, will take time, and state officials said shelter managers did not need to make today’s deadline to address those.

Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Wendy Gabriel said the city has received the proposals, which will first face scrutiny at a General Services subcommittee meeting this month.