Animal shelter future unsure

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The animal shelter may remain open after city councilors review a cost estimate for shelter repairs at their Dec. 13 meeting.

At a special meeting Tuesday councilors reviewed Michigan Department of Agriculture reports citing issues Interim Police Chief James Wilkewitz and shelter manager Kalin Turri gave Nov. 22 as reasons they supported closing the shelter and moving its animals to Romulus’ newer animal shelter facility for an annual cost of $7,800.

The violations include a porous floor, poor ventilation in the storage room used as an isolation chamber for animals with communicable diseases, a broken kennel fence, and a new air conditioner to replace the current residential model now used.

Wilkewitz Nov. 22 said the shelter breaks even with the estimated $37,000 in revenue collected from neighboring cities for which it houses stray animals. The cost of repairs, he said, would push the shelter into the red.

But after reviewing the reports, many councilors disagreed. Councilman Dennis Hayes said the reports from the last two years were “glowing,” except for a few minor issues and echoed the concern of council members who called last week’s presentation based on a letter by Wilkewitz about the repairs “misleading.”

“I think that letter is a misrepresentation of what we’ve just seen,” Councilman Harry Sisko said. “This should have never come to us in this state and asked for something to be closed when we don’t have all the information. This is part of what’s wrong with what goes on in the city.”

Zech said the city intends to ask for a 60- to 90-day extension for the repairs, for which the original deadline is Tuesday. Several members of the council and the audience offered to volunteer labor and seek donations of materials for repairs.

Wilkewitz said the state suggested the cement floor be sandblasted, as the epoxy used to prevent animal feces from seeping into the floor has been shredded by animal claws. Council members discussed finding alternative resins that would stand up to sharp claws as an alternative to sandblasting.

The animal shelter, housed in the garage of the city building, was put together “piecemeal,” to accommodate a growing number of animals from other cities, Councilman Larry Templin said. The shelter euthanizes animals for which they cannot find homes, but some, including a suspected wolf hybrid illegal to own in Michigan who killed a Lincoln Park boy last year, have been at the shelter pending trials for more than a year.

Templin further voiced concerns about the shelter’s conditions and the safety of animals and staff. He said since the shelter comprises two unconnected rooms, a shelter employee working around proven dangerous animals could be injured by one and calls for help would go unheard.

““It’s inexcusable to keep animals there for any length of time and I know there’s been animals there for over a year,” Templin said.