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Animal Allies ends management agreement with Superior

Animal Allies board of directors decided to end its management agreement for the animal shelter in Superior.

The decision comes less than a month after the Superior City Council decided to suspend a contract to design a new shelter.

“The Animal Allies Board of Directors met yesterday to review our involvement with the City of Superior’s new and current shelters,” Board President Tim Riley wrote in a letter delivered Jan. 10 to Mayor Bruce Hagen. “The shelter’s reduced function as a ‘stray hold’ only differs greatly from the facility design we agreed to in the Memorandum of Common Understanding.

“Based on the City of Superior’s change in direction, our board has instructed that we withdraw from further involvement,” Riley stated.

A stray hold facility gives pet owners an opportunity to reclaim a lost animal within a set time period before it is placed for adoption or euthanized.

Animal Allies Director Rick Sailstad said he believes the city wants what is best for the animals. He said Animal Allies will work with the city to ensure a smooth transition by April 30.

Hagen said the city’s direction hasn’t changed, and he believes the city can still provide shelter and adoption services without becoming a “kill” shelter. However, it’s a shelter that would have to be constructed within the city’s means to build, maintain and operate, he said.

The decision by Animals Allies is difficult but it’s likely to force the city to do something, Hagen said.

For more than five years, the city has been planning to build a new shelter; however, the cost has been a roadblock for the project. Estimated at more than $3 million, the city faces about an $800,000 shortfall for the construction costs alone.

The council voted Dec. 17 to suspend a design contract with Animal Arts for an 8,600-square-foot facility after spending about $70,000 to design a 6,300-square-foot facility.

Council Vice President Denise McDonald, one of the councilors who proposed suspending the contract, said her concern was the money being spent when the city wasn’t even sure it would be able to afford to construct the new design.

Hagen said Animal Allies decision will have the city re-evaluating its needs and options.

“We’re working on interim management of the shelter right now,” Hagen said. He said they’ve had preliminary discussions with members of the Humane Society of Douglas County about managing shelter services for Superior. 

Council President Warren Bender said he and Hagen are planning to go to the Humane Society’s facility tonight to learn more about the operation.

Animal Rescue Federation, which operated the Superior Animal Shelter for several years before Animal Allies took over management in 2012, has been disbanded, said Dan O’Neill, an ARF board member who fought unsuccessfully to keep the organization together until Superior’s new animal shelter was built.