The possibility of a city-county joint animal control transition holding facility has supporters of the Humane Society of Yuma up in arms.
So much so that 19 of them sat through a 1-1/2-hour meeting Wednesday of the Yuma City Council for an opportunity to express their opposition during call to the public, which for the meeting had been moved from its traditional place at the beginning of the agenda to the very end.
Many of them had also sat through a special work session Tuesday biting their tongues as Yuma County Administrator Robert Pickels briefed the council on the joint facility option, which he emphasized is just a concept being discussed and not a proposal.
Currently, the city of Yuma and Yuma County provide animal control services in their respective jurisdictions, and the animals that are picked up are kenneled by the Humane Society at a cost of $32 a day. But with both the city and county experiencing significantly more calls than they anticipated, their kenneling costs have escalated, Pickels said.
A joint facility, shared by the county and the municipalities of Yuma, Somerton, San Luis and Wellton, would be an investment in future savings once the debt service for the construction was paid off, he said.
Tom Kelly wasn't buying it. “I oppose a new facility and ask that you all be skeptical and ask questions,” he told the council, warning there would be unintended costs. “Don't build something you don't know how much it will cost.”
Some felt another shelter would be not only redundant, they expressed concern about the care of kenneled animals. “Leave the humane care of animals in the hands of the Humane Society,” said Nancy Patterson.
John Weil, former HSOY board president, noted that supporters raised $1.5 million for the new complex. The remainder of the total $3.1 million cost was mortgaged, based on the five-year kenneling agreement the nonprofit has with the county and city.
If the entities back out of the contract, the Humane Society would be bankrupt, he warned. That would mean no spay-neuter program, no pet adoption services and no extra effort to locate owners for the animals.
Denise Sweet-McGregor warned that a new shelter would not address the real issue of an exploding animal population.
“You're just trying to put a Band-Aid on the situation. This won't solve the problem.”
The real solution, she said, is educating everyone about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.
Others were incensed that government would be considering competing with the Humane Society, a nonprofit organization that recently built a state-of-the-art complex after years of fundraising and private donations.
“I highly oppose the kennel,” said James McQuinn. “People donated their time and money for years for the new (HSOY) facility. We have a Class 1 shelter. Now government wants to take over. No government agency can run a business better than private enterprise.”
“The Humane Society is an asset,” said Weil. “I urge you to put aside your personal differences and preserve it.”