Winslow residents who board their family pets while on vacation will have to continue taking Rover and Spot to Flagstaff facilities for the time being while city officials find a way to fund construction of the facility.
It’s been one year to the month since the Humane Society closed the doors on its facility and the steel shell that the city purchased for its own boarding house lies in pieces waiting to be assembled.
Proponents for the boarding facility say there are pet owners tired of driving to Flagstaff to lodge their cats and dogs.
Animal Control Officer Earle Wagner said he is “frequently asked for the latest update on the facility.”
The Winslow City Council has yet to approve the funding for construction of the facility, which City Administrator John Roche estimates to cost $75,000 to get it up and running.
At the Oct.12 council meeting, Roche proposed the council authorize the sale of property at the Airport Industrial Park and use the funds for the boarding facility. The council agreed to sell the lots totaling $5,580 but voted against spending the money on a specific project. The money will be added to the city’s general fund.
Councilwoman Judy Howell voted against spending the money on the boarding facility. She said she would like to see the money spent on existing infrastructure that needs repairs.
“I want a good facility, but we should spend the money to fix the roads inside the cemetery and the irrigation on the East end of town,” she said.
Other than the construction, the city is prepared to move ahead with the facility.
The plan is to build it adjacent to the existing Animal Care Facility. The 2,400 square feet building would need proper climate control, wash-down facility and inside and outside kennels. Plans include a separate room for cats and other “critters,” so they would not have to be put in cages. Dogs would have 12 to 14 indoor and outdoor runs.
Wagner literally rewrote the law book pertaining to the care and treatment of animals. The new ordinances were written to cover every aspect of operating the facility.
“The ordinance was brought up to snuff to protect the city from liability,” he said. “There’s no middle man if an animal gets sick.”
Sick animals were among the complaints boarders had when the Humane Society ran a previous boarding facility, Wagner said.
Former Manager Ellie Meritt admitted the facility needed upgrades, but the Humane Society didn’t have the funding from the city to maintain a first rate shelter.
“The old facility was very run down,” she said. “The city gave us $50,000 a year to operate 24-7. It needed a lot of work done to it but the city wouldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t have the money. We didn’t have the money.”
The Winslow Humane Society Board of Directors provided information to the city that showed Winslow workers were paid less than those at the Holbrook Humane Society and were on call after hours and on weekends while Holbrook employees worked regular business hours.
Meritt also said she doesn’t think there are enough boarders to necessitate a new facility and the ones who would use it probably won’t pay the higher fees. She said people balked when they talked about raising the cost just a dollar over a year ago.
In 2002, the last full year the Humane Society boarded, the cost to board cats was $3 a day, $4 for small dogs, $5 for medium size dogs and $6 for large dogs.
The new fees are set by city ordinance. One dog is $14.50 per day and two or more dogs are $12.50 per day. One cat is $10 per day and two or more cats are $8 per day.
Boarding facilities in Flagstaff on average charge $8-$15 a day for cats and $16-$20 for dogs depending on size.
Meritt said the Humane Society struggled to make enough money to give their four full-time employees raises, insurance and overtime pay. Documents provided by Meritt show that in 2002, the Humane Society handled 1,967 dogs and cats between boarding and animal control.
The Humane Society contracted with the city and Navajo, Coconino and Apache Counties to handle animal control. With the subsidies, donations and fees collected for services, the Humane Society made just under $94,000 in 2002. Boarding fees accounted for $9,600 of that total. Meritt said they also collected aluminum cans for recycling to make money.
Wagner said he does not expect the city boarding facility to turn a profit, but it would help support existing functions. He also said he’s not giving up hope yet.
“I feel it could be passed if it comes up again,” he said