Friday, April 12, 2024

ACPR declines Othello contract offer

Staff Writer | December 12, 2023 5:30 PM

OTHELLO — Othello Mayor Shawn Logan announced during Monday evening’s city council meeting that the city of Othello had made an offer in its re-negotiations for the contract between Adams County Pet Rescue and the city, and that ACPR had declined the offer.

“We've been in negotiations since October with Adams County Pet Rescue, and that (current) agreement expires at the end of this year. We've had a number of negotiated sessions with them and their representatives,” Logan said. “The city made an offer to the board of Pet Rescue. That offer was a flat fee of $75,000 a year, which was a 50% increase over last year.”

Logan said the city’s contract offer includes the city assuming full responsibility for animal control, among other stipulations and concessions.

“ACPR then responded to the city's offer, and they stated, ‘We are unable to provide sheltering services for that fee,’” Logan said. “So, with that response, the city staff is reviewing its options and will present to the city council its findings.”

According to the letter submitted by Ken Simmons, ACPR’s board president, the shelter is still requesting $150,000 for its services to the city, which cost the shelter $364,000 annually.

ACPR board member Tammy Foley said after the meeting that the city’s current funding is about $50,000 for animal control and sheltering services. 

“We can't take it If we agree to their offer of only $75,000 and then we take in 300 city dogs; those dogs are going to cost us $350,000,” she said. “We wouldn't go into debt for $300,000. We'd have to close our doors, and then I don't even know what would happen with the contract that says we're taking city dogs if we don't exist.”

Foley also spoke to the council during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“If we are going to take city dogs, we need more reimbursement,” she said. “We're not asking you for our whole budget, that would be $364,000. We're not asking you for that much. We're asking you for $150,000. That's half. That's less than half. We will fundraise the other $200,000. We’re fundraising every day.”

Logan said part of the contract offer stipulated that ACPR would have up to three weeks to determine the adoptability of an animal or have the city take back the animal. Additionally, the city would have a three-day hold on dogs before they became the property of ACPR, which Foley said is an issue.

“They don't have any safety precautions to keep diseased animals separate,” Foley said. “We would not want to take a dog if it had been out behind there for three days because it might have mingled. We would potentially be taking very sick and diseased dogs into the rescue, because like I said tonight, when a dog comes to us they come out in the hazmat gear, they give it all the vaccinations in the parking lot. They carry it in, they don't even let it touch the ground. They carry it in, put it in the bathtub, give it a scrubby, soapy bath, and then it's isolated.”

During her public comment, Foley said she couldn’t picture city staff performing the same procedure when dealing with potentially diseased animals.

“I just really can’t imagine that you want to spend the money for your own animal care workers, your own facilities when we have the facility, we have trained staff. We have all the expertise to take care of these animals,” Foley said.

During the meeting, Logan explained other aspects of the contract offer.

“The city will issue and collect fees from the city of Othello residents for dog licenses. The city will absorb responsibility for animal control enforcement with dog owners, writing tickets and adjudicating,” he said. “In addition to that, the city would provide one former city police department vehicle with 90,000-100,000 miles, and we would also provide all maintenance, oil changes, tire rotation, et cetera, through its mechanic in the Public Works department. ACPR would buy any new parts.”

In a later interview, Logan explained the city’s next steps. 

“Well, the city is still responsible, starting the first of the year, to take care of animal control, which is dog pickup,” he said. “And so we intend to start working towards that. As far as shelter services, that's a little bit more difficult and we have to examine our options.”

Logan explained how ACPR’s situation had progressed, influenced by the death of a benefactor who invested in ACPR’s operations.

“The city had figured that it was going to continue…(for a) long time into the future,” he said. “What's happened is that, unfortunately, benefactors don't live forever, and so the shelter is being squeezed. And so they're coming back trying to survive. And I understand that. They've made that clear. We've had enough meetings together, I understand what they're doing … they love those dogs like they're their own. I know that. I see that. I hear that when I talk to them,” he said.

Logan said the city is open to negotiating with ACPR in the future or hearing a counteroffer from the shelter.

“I think that all options are on the table at the moment,” he said. “We just don't have anything to offer them today.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.

    Adams County Pet Rescue board member Tammy Foley speaks about the pet rescue during the public comment portion of Monday’s Othello City Council meeting.
    Exterior photo of Adams County Pet Rescue’s facility in Othello. ACPR serves all of Adams County, including a contract for animal control and sheltering services with the city of Othello that expires at the end of the year. The city made an offer for a renegotiated contract that ACPR declined.
    Two dogs in the exterior area of Adams County Pet Rescue’s facility. ACPR is currently in danger of having to shut its doors soon without increased funding and donations.