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ACPR asks Othello for more funding

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | October 11, 2023 1:30 AM

OTHELLO — Members of the public and Adams County Pet Rescue board member Tammy Foley spoke up at Monday’s regular Othello City Council meeting to ask the city to increase its funding for ACPR.

“I have to tell you that, before I joined the board, I had absolutely no idea how much money it cost to run Pet Rescue,” Foley said.

Foley broke down some of ACPR’s continuing finances and expenses for the council, which she said amount to about $43,000 a month just for basic services.

“Adams County Pet Rescue takes in about 300 dogs a year from the city,” Foley said. “The dogs that came in last winter, last January, that were puppies, if Pet Rescue hadn’t taken them in they’d be having puppies now, so you can imagine we probably would have about 600 dogs in our streets.”

Overall, ACPR will need about $200,000 just to cover expenses through the end of the year, according to a statement from the agency.

“I would say that rounding up stray, dangerous and sick animals off of our street is absolutely a public safety issue,” Foley said. “I'm asking you to please fund the full cost that pet rescue incurs from rescuing city animals. Those 300 dogs that Pet Rescue takes in cost them $330,000 and that is just for spaying, neutering, basic vaccines, food and shelter.”

Foley clarified that she is only asking the city to fund a proportionate amount of ACPR’s operations since it is a county-wide agency.

“We're going to the county commissioners’ meeting tomorrow. We met last week. We’re going again because Pet Rescue actually gets 400 dogs a year from the county and those dogs cost Pet Rescue $440,000,” Foley said. “We want the county to be paying their share … It's the Adams County Pet Rescue. All the cities in our county should be contributing to Pet Rescue.”

Othello Mayor Shawn Logan addressed the citizen input at the meeting.

“We also are suggesting that Adams County Pet Rescue is also going to have to take a hard look at its business operation,” Logan said. “Our suggestion is that maybe the Pet Rescue should look at hiring their own veterinarian, also providing spay and neuter services to the rest of the community so that it could begin to recoup some of those costs.”

ACPR Director Kyya Grant said veterinarians are currently in short supply.

“Yakima Spay and Neuter Clinic, I think they were closed for over a year … because they couldn't find a veterinarian to come into their low-cost (clinic). (Pet OverPopulation Prevention) down in Tri-Cities, their veterinarian is leaving at the end of the year, and they won't be able to stay open until they get a vet, which it took them a long time last time (to do),” Grant said. “I don't see that it's viable to try and find a veterinarian that would come strictly work for the shelter.”

Without its own veterinarian, ACPR can only rely on other agencies for spaying and neutering within the county.

Council Member John Lallas said that if the city had to, it would hire its own animal control employees and go into the business itself in order to keep Othello safe like it did before it contracted with ACPR.

“The operation has grown significantly, and now the operation is under financial duress, and we're aware,” Logan said. “I just want you to know that. We're aware of that, and we want to help, and all I can say is tough decisions are going to have to be made on both sides. All three sides, when you include the county as well.”

Logan said that the city’s grant writer had identified a possible grant ACPR could apply for and that the city would pass that on, but he also said that the grant would be highly competitive.

“I can say this, the city can't afford $500 a dog,” Logan said. “I'm just being blunt. We don't have that kind of money … the amount of expenses is staggering.”

Logan said to stay tuned and wait for the city to go through its process and that the city and Grant would work towards an agreement that everyone can live with.

Grant also provided an update on the ACPR’s fundraising efforts. Donations to ACPR’s GoFundMe have increased to more than $20,000.

“I'm super excited … that's great progress,” she said. “We’ll just keep at it. You know, that's all we can do.”

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

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GABRIEL DAVIS/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Othello Mayor Shawn Logan, left, addresses citizen input on the potential of funding Adams County Pet Rescue during Monday’s regular city council meeting.

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GABRIEL DAVIS/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Dogs sheltered behind the Adams County Pet Rescue facility on West Bench Road in Othello. ACPR board member said that the shelter takes in 300 dogs a year from the city of Othello. Large dogs such as this one are often those that stay the longest at area shelters.