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Tue, July 07

SAVE-MTR gets green light to build animal shelter in Williams
Williams City Council members approve lease agreement, plan to continue contract with Coconino Humane Association

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - SAVE Meant-to-Rescue (SAVE-MTR), a local animal rescue organization, got the green light June 25 to begin building a shelter with City Council approval of a property lease agreement with the city of Williams.

Williams City Council members voted to approve the lease for a site on Ellen Way near the Wastewater Plant. The city originally designated a building site on Frank Way near the transfer station, but city officials later determined the Ellen Way site was more appropriate and would have less impact on neighboring properties.

Exactly how the city will use the new shelter is still uncertain. Williams Animal Control Officer Leah Payne said she is supportive of the shelter and feels that it will benefit the community, but at this point the city still needs the services of Coconino Humane Association (CHA), a non-profit shelter that provides services to the city of Williams.

The city currently pays CHA $16,000 annually for its shelter services. Payne said she uses the CHA regularly to deal with abandoned, aggressive and sick animals within the city.

"They have been great to work with," Payne said. "They really care about animals and do not like to put animals down (euthanize). They work hard for other solutions."

Payne is concerned that if the city ended the contract with the humane association, the SAVE-MTR shelter would not be able to provide the services she needs for aggressive and sick animals.

"Those dogs have to go to the shelter (CHA)," Payne said. "You cannot adopt out an aggressive or sick dog. That's according to my job requirements. I just had two puppies that had Parvo that were brought to me off of Perkinsville Road. Nobody claimed them, they were abandoned, they needed to be put down."

CHA also provides quarantines, rabies testing, and euthanasia services for residents of Williams.

"I do several bats and skunks each year, and a few dogs," Payne said referring to rabies testing. "The euthanasia part is also a service they do offer and it's not just for stray dogs. They help people who are on a limited income whose dog is dying of cancer and can't afford to take it to the vet. They bring it to the shelter and they euthanize it for about $20 and dispose of the body for the owner."

Payne also said that CHA accepts a variety of animals such as rabbits, lizards, and ferrets and that currently SAVE-MTR only has plans to shelter dogs and cats.

The city awarded a one-time $10,000 grant to SA E-MTR to cover building costs, but is planning to continue their contract with CHA.

Mayor John Moore said he believes there is a need for both services in Williams.

"I don't ever recall (a past discussion) where we would combine the two services." Moore said. "They're two different entities. One is to rescue and save animals and keep them in a no-kill facility, the other one adopts some out but is a kill facility."

SAVE-MTR President Margaret Hangan said there are a lot of items that still need to be addressed but once the facility is up and running they can discuss more ways the group can help the city.

"Not only can we take in animals that are less risky, but we can also provide education to the community," Hangan said. "We could educate about shots, spay and neuter, and picking up after your pet. We could do all those things that you (Payne) don't have time to do."

Lease Terms

The Council unanimously approved the 30-year lease at a rate of $1.00 per year. SAVE-MTR is responsible for the costs of building design, construction review and permit fees, construction administration and utility extensions. SAVE-MTR is required to use licensed contractors for all construction activity requiring a permit from the city and list the city as an additional insured for all construction activity.

According to the lease, SAVE-MTR must complete the construction within 18 months and if it is not completed SAVE-MTR may request one twelve-month extension. If SAVE-MTR fails to complete construction or obtain consent for an extension of time, the lease will terminate and any structures of improvements will become the property of the city.

SAVE-MTR has raised approximately $150,000 through local fundraising and is ready to begin building on the site, but the council and some community members expressed concern about the long-term costs associated with the shelter once it is built.

"We're literally on the jumping off point," Hangan said. "We are excited but have some things to still work out."

Hangan said group members are confident in their ability to fundraise and be competitive for grants. She said many organizations provide substantial grants to animal rescue organizations like SAVE-MTR and she believes that with a lease in place and a building under construction, grant opportunities will increase.

"We have been very successful so far and once we have the shelter up and running that puts us in a completely different bracket," Hangan said. "We're going to be able to apply for grants that we just don't have access to right now. And we have successfully gotten grants before."

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