Instead of an expansion, SCRAPS is going the fixer-upper route.
Nancy Hill, director of Spokane Regional Animal Protection Service, recently learned that plans to bring in a 64-by-24 modular office building, to be placed by the current facility at 2521 N. Flora Road, will have to be, well, scrapped.
It turns out that the fire marshal for the Spokane Valley Fire Department will not issue a permit for SCRAPS to locate the structure at the site unless – as any canine could readily appreciate -- a fire hydrant is available on the east side of Union Pacific railroad tracks at that location.
“So, instead, we’re going to try to make use of existing space,” Hill told Spokane County commissioners Tuesday at their regular CEO meeting.
Last August, the commissioners approved $48,616 for Hill to lease the modular office in order to help relieve cramped conditions. However, since that won’t happen, the SCRAPS director offered up an alternative plan to do an interior remodel project to increase office space for about $3,000 less.
The catch, however, is that SCRAPS will have to shut down its after-hours receiving area for animals as well as give up some storage space.
The “night drop” area – which isn’t offered at any other local animal shelters any longer -- has been “the best thing and the worst thing we ever did,” Hill told the commissioners. On the plus side, it does allow those who have picked up a stray or lost animal to get it off the streets and into a safe location until its owner can be found or it’s adopted. On the other hand, it’s a tempting way for dogs and cats to be dumped off anonymously.
“We’ve been getting animals outside our jurisdiction,” Hill said. “We’ll come in and find nine cats in a cage and no note.”
With the loss of the overnight receiving area – which would happen sometime early next year – Hill said she would attempt to have SCRAPS open on Wednesdays, days when the facility is currently closed. That would allow for six-day-a-week operations with Sundays closed.
“I think we can have people available,” Hill said.
Before voting with his fellow commissioners to approve the $45,626 allocation, Commissioner Todd Mielke expressed disappointment that the fire department would not agree for the permit to allow for the modular building for temporary office space.
“I’d like to see if we can find some common ground,” he said.
Board Chairman Mark Richard, however, said that he is convinced that the decision is in line with rulings for other applicants.
“This is consistent with other decisions they’ve made,” Richard said.
In the long term, SCRAPS is looking at the possibility of moving into converted warehouse area near the fairgrounds at 1001 N. Havana. The property is currently owned by the city of Spokane and is a good size for an expanded animal shelter that could accommodate that municipality in the future.
But, as Mielke noted, such a move is “at least two years away.”
SpokAnimal, which provides animal control for the city of Spokane, is looking to get out of that contract and SCRAPS is eager to take over – once the new space is available.
Currently, SCRAPS provides animal control for unincorporated Spokane County, the city of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Cheney, Millwood and Fairchild Air Force Base.
Also on Tuesday, the commissioners made it official that dog license fees will increase to $25 beginning in January. The current price is $20, $5 less than the city of Spokane, for spayed and neutered canines. Unaltered dogs’ licenses will increase from $40 to $50.
Senior discounts, however, will be available for a $10 reduction.
Hill plans to use the increase in fees to help ease the blow of a $150,000 reduction in the overall SCRAPS budget in 2011, and it will also match those in Spokane.