After scratching around the issue of animal control for a good portion of two meetings last week, the Spokane Valley City Council is expected to learn soon if it makes sense to wander beyond its own yard for a service provider.
At its April 17 study session, the council went over 14 responses to queries posed to Spokane County regarding its vision of a new regional animal-control concept – complete with a new centrally located shelter. Two days later, Spokane Valley officials sat down with the Spokane City Council in order to get a feel for its plans going forward and experiences with Spokane’s animal-control agency, SpokAnimal Care.
Leaders from both cities seemed to reach the same conclusion: They’re concerned about costs, but also quality care for their constituents’ pets.
They also want to know what all their options are. The council’s directed their respective staffs to work together to see if it makes sense to ask for qualifications from both Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and SpokAnimal to see they could handle the countywide workload.
“There is also a possibility that SpokAnimal could work with SCRAPS,” said Council Member Brenda Grassel at the joint meeting on April 19.
Still, there is a general concern that SpokAnimal – despite a phone conversation indicating that its director would be interested in discussion concerning the handling of Spokane Valley’s animal control needs – could possibly take on the workload of the county’s two largest municipalities.
“They’re smaller than our shelter,” SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill told both councils.
Spokane Valley Council Member Arne Woodard said he has heard from veterinarians that he would not name that SCRAPS provides better care for the animals it brings in.
“I’m not trying to blast SpokAnimal,” Woodard said but added that some conversations with the veterinary community “might help in our decision-making.”
Spokane County officials are hoping both cities agree by July 1 to support a regional animal-control system operated by SCRAPS in an existing building, most likely the former Harley-Davidson dealership on Trent Avenue. Purchasing the structure and renovation could be done to the tune of $4.5 million, they say, with both cities providing assistance with the costs.
Both entities, however, are struggling with the concept of joint ownership of the building. The majority of both councils have indicated they would much rather rent from Spokane County.
Spokane Valley could pay $45,000 to $66,000 each year in different scenarios involving either renting or co-ownership. That amount would be on top of the annual operating costs of around $242,000.
Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey has voiced his support for SCRAPS and told members of both council last week that the city has a “very, very good contract,” the cost of which has gone down each year.”
“I have absolutely no negative feelings toward SCRAPS,” he said.
Spokane Council Member Amber Waldref said she “hasn’t heard one complaint” regarding her city’s contract with SpokAnimal but did say the cost is growing each year.
“When you only have one bidder for a contract, the cost is going to go up,” she said, adding that she had “concerns about the size” of SpokAnimal’s facility.
Spokane Valley staff is expected to make a report back to the City Council at its May 1 meeting.