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Animal shelter redux: Western Arizona Humane Society returns to Mohave County with new plan

Sanford, a hound mix, is one of many pets looking for forever homes at Western Arizona Humane Society, 950 Buchanan St. (Photo courtesy of WAHS)

Sanford, a hound mix, is one of many pets looking for forever homes at Western Arizona Humane Society, 950 Buchanan St. (Photo courtesy of WAHS)

LAKE HAVASU CITY – Weeks after withdrawing from a renewed contract with Mohave County, the Lake Havasu City-based Western Arizona Humane Society will approach the county’s Board of Supervisors with a new proposal.

Mohave County Supervisors voted June 3 to bring operation of the county’s Kingman Animal Control Shelter in-house after Humane Society officials announced they were not interested in renewing the organization’s contract to operate the shelter.

Since then, according to county records, the Humane Society’s board of directors has had a change of heart. Humane Society Executive Director Patty Gillmore addressed the issue earlier this week in a letter to Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius and County Manager Mike Hendrix.

According to Gillmore, operating Kingman’s animal control shelter has resulted in average financial losses of $58,400 to the organization per year, for the past four years. In April, Gillmore submitted a letter on behalf of the Humane Society’s board of directors, withdrawing from a renewal of the county’s previous contract with the organization.

In her letter, she cited issues such as financial difficulties in maintaining the aging shelter facility provided by the county; as well as expenses in sheltering Kingman’s high number of rescue animals, particularly in cases of hoarding.

This week, she submitted a new proposal for a $350,000 contract for one year of operating the facility, with an option for the county to renew for another five years.

Such a renewal would require a 2% annual increase to the Humane Society’s fees. Payments would also be made monthly under the new proposal, rather than quarterly.

“One of my reasons for recommending this reversal on renewing the Mohave County contract is we care about the animals in all of Mohave County,” Gillmore wrote to Angius and Hendrix. “We believe if WAHS does not renew this contract, the live-release rate will drop drastically for the animals in our county, and we would hate to see that bloodbath.”

Havasu’s Western Arizona Humane Society animal shelter has for years maintained a live-release rate of more than 90%, while operating as one of Western Arizona’s only no-kill shelters.

The organization last month opened its new headquarters in Havasu, on Sweetwater Avenue, replacing a crumbling 40-year-old infrastructure that housed the organization’s shelter, veterinary and intake services.

A new Kingman animal shelter could be on the distant horizon, and next Monday the Board of Supervisors is also scheduled to consider allocating $3 million from the county’s Capital Improvement Projects fund to pay for such a shelter.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is also scheduled to hear a report from county staff members as to the possible design, site and construction of a new Mohave County animal shelter.

According to Angius, it’s a discussion that will need to be had eventually, but such a decision will require a greater amount of research before the county moves forward.

“The old (Kingman animal shelter) isn’t in good shape,” Angius said Wednesday. “It’s underneath a set of railroad tracks, which stresses the dogs out, and we’ve had OSHA complaints. At the moment, we’re only talking about it … we could tap into the Capital Improvement Projects budget for a new shelter, but I need a lot more information before making that decision. But eventually, we will need one.”

For the county’s present shelter needs, however, Angius would prefer the Humane Society continue operating the county’s shelter in Kingman, rather than bringing operations under the purview of county employees.

“I’m with Supervisor (Buster) Johnson on this,” Angius said. “I do not believe we should run the shelter. That’s not what the county is here for.

It should be done by a humane society, and now the Western Arizona Humane Society has come back to the table. It’s something we should talk about. They did a good job for us in the past.”

Supervisors will hear Gillmore’s proposal, and possibly rescind the county’s June 3 decision to bring animal shelter operations in-house, at its next meeting on Monday.


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