FARMINGTON — City Council will consider awarding a bid for construction of the new regional animal shelter at their Tuesday meeting.
In the mean time, councilors and city staff are taking measures to ensure that the new shelter is a step forward from the high euthanasia and other issues affecting the Farmington Animal Shelter.
Council will consider awarding a bid for construction to Jaynes Corporation for $3,303,294 plus estimated taxes of $226,100.
Bids opened on Nov. 8 with four bidders participating.
City Manager Rob Mayes contracted with Pro-Shelter to provide shelter management consulting services in the planning process for the new regional animal shelter.
"Pro-Shelter has been in business since 1994 offering consulting and coaching services to municipal, nonprofit run shelters and other animal service organizations," Mayes said.
The firm's owner, Marcy Eckhardt, works with the city's Animal Advisory Commission.
She is respected by local animal advocacy and activist groups, Mayes said.
Mayes commended the efforts of Animal Services Supervisor Angie Arnold.
"This decision is not based on claims and accusations of a few who have found fault with the existing management at the shelter," he said. "In fact, the current supervisor should be commended for decreasing euthanasia rates, both by the actual number of animals and as a lower percentage of intakes."
Pro-Shelter's services will help Arnold and her staff make improvements to the facility, Mayes said.
Councilor Mary Fischer praised the decision to contract with Pro-Shelter.
The city, however, will still face a number of significant challenges concerning animal services, she said.
"You're judged on how you treat your animals," Fischer said. "If that's the case, we've fallen short. I think we're going to have some serious growing pains."
Among these growing pains are issues of under-staffing at the Farmington Animal Shelter, likely increases in operational costs when the new shelter opens, how to promote more pet adoption, decrease the euthanasia rate and implement a large scale affordable spay and neuter program, she said.
"I think our focus needs to be to change the animal shelter from one that focuses on animal control to one that focuses on animal welfare," she said.
She looks forward to addressing the issues.
"I'm enthusiastic," Fischer said.
Other councilors are excited to see the new shelter project moving forward as well.
"I'm excited to see where it's going," said Councilor Dan Darnell. "I know that the city manager and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs are working through the issues. We've had so much input on (the shelter). I feel comfortable that this is going to be an outstanding shelter."
For the time being, a true no kill shelter may not be possible, Darnell said. The shelter takes in too many sick animals, and while he says the city's animal services staff should endeavor to care for the shelter's animals to the best of their abilities, there comes a point when the most humane option is to euthanize.
"We get dogs coming in with (canine parvovirus) and other illnesses," Darnell said. "They can linger for weeks. The worst thing is for an animal to suffer."