Tri-Cities Animal Control has new management, renewed hopes for a new building

The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control Services in Pasco has a new operator and a renewed interest in breaking ground on a long-anticipated new building.

Rebecca Howard and Dr. Julie Chambers formed the nonprofit Neo’s Nation Foundation to submit the winning bid for the contract to operate the animal shelter and control facility, 1312 S. 18th Ave., Pasco.

The city of Pasco, which operates the shelter on behalf of the four cities, awarded the bid on Dec. 7. The contract is worth $875,000 per year for 2021-22, with the costs split between Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.

Tri-Cities Animal Shelter serves as the animal control arm of the cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco and operates a shelter for homeless pets from its quarters near the Columbia River.

Howard is a 14-year veteran of Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and serves as director. Chambers, a retired chiropractor, brings the business management expertise as chief financial officer.

Chambers is new to shelter work but said she is a lifelong softy when it comes to strays.

“I’ve tried adopting every stray animal I could find since I was a kid (much to my mother’s chagrin),” she said.

The partners share a granddaughter in common and agreed to work together when the animal control contract opened in 2019.

Howard and Chambers are the second team to take over the animal control facility since longtime director Angela Zilar retired in 2018.

The duo succeeds Debbie Sporcich. She led Tri-Cities Animal Shelter in 2019 and 2020 and did not renew the contract when it expired on Dec. 31.

Chambers said she is eager to proceed with long-standing plans to construct a new building to house the shelter and animal control services. All three cities have approved funding for the new building, which will be built next to the aging existing building.

Pasco reports it is coordinating with its partners on a new concept plan, as well as an assessment to determine if the current property is suited to construction, said Zach Ratkai, the city’s administrative and community services director.

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