An important message to the citizens of Lincoln County from the Manager of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter
Animal Shelter Building Straining Under Age and Overuse
In the afternoon of August 28, the laundry room of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter started spewing a thick cloud of white smoke, causing the fire alarm to go off and spurring quick action by staff. The Newport Fire Department was called immediately and responded in a few short minutes, but by the time they arrived, the smoke had dissipated and the urgency subsided. However, the frightening incident highlights the age and inadequacy of the fifty-year-old portion of the building that puts staff and the animals at risk.
“We are very proud of the number of ways we have become a very progressive animal shelter,” said Shelter Manager Laura Ireland. “However, we fight the building every day, and having a scary thing like an electrical fire due to the age and inadequacy of the structure highlights the urgency of the problems.”
The Shelter currently uses residential washers and dryers nearly all day long, seven days a week. Due to their excessive use, there is constant turnover of repair and purchasing new or refurbished machines. In order to even consider commercial washers and dryers, a new space would need to be constructed and electrical wiring upgraded.
In the short term, the Lincoln County Animal Shelter is considering refiguring space or constructing new space for laundry facilities. For the long term, the Shelter is exploring options to build a new shelter, retrofit another building, or rehab the current shelter because the laundry room isn’t the only problem. “The roof leaks in a number of places, there is not a separate space for sick or seized dogs, cat rooms are in the middle of the dog kennel area and more space for cats is needed, and the lobby is cramped,” Ireland said. “We know we could do so much better, and be even better, with a facility that reflects our community’s values, takes advantage of modern shelter design and construction materials and is just a better space for sheltered animals, our staff, and the thousands of people who utilize our services and programs.”
The property tax levy that was passed in 2012 created a permanent animal services taxing district that funds basic animal shelter operations as well as three Animal Services Deputies. Over the past three years, a significant reserve of funds has been built up; however, the tax levy was not intended to cover all needs of the Animal Shelter indefinitely. “A new or rehabbed building is going to require support from our community’s animal lovers above and beyond the tax levy,” explains Ireland.
In the meantime, the Animal Shelter has been in renewed discussions with Friends of Lincoln County Animals (FOLCAS) about how the Shelter could best utilize donations and funds raised at the Pick of the Litter thrift store and other FOLCAS fundraising projects. While FOLCAS has been paying for pre-adoption spay and neuter for shelter animals since 2009, they have recently expanded support for the spay/neuter program to include related medical services. In addition, FOLCAS will now be purchasing microchips for all adopted animals and funding a licensing campaign, bringing their level of support to nearly $50,000 per year.
In addition, the laundry room fire incident has opened another opportunity for the Lincoln County Animal Shelter and FOLCAS to work together to benefit the homeless animals in our community. Upon hearing of the fire, FOLCAS immediately contacted the Shelter Manager. “We are standing by,” said FOLCAS president Emily DeHuff, “to learn what help might be needed to address the Shelter’s facility issues in the short and the long term.”