The city is Pasco is preparing to replace the aging building that houses Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control Service on the city’s Columbia River waterfront.
The city has submitted plans for a 10,000-square-foot facility for review under the State Environmental Protection Act or SEPA – years after it first collaborated with the cities of Kennewick and Richland to build a new shelter.
The $6 million project is jointly funded by all three, which signed off on the need for a replacement in 2016. At the time, the project was supposed to open as early as 2018.
Later, construction was supposed to begin in 2020 but was delayed again while the program underwent a series of new managers and a redesign that added 2,000 square feet.
The city identified completing the shelter as a top priority in its 2021-22 budget.
The program serves the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, with Pasco as leading partner and manager.
It typically contacts with a third party to manage the program.
It was forced to fire the most recent operator, Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation, over allegations it mistreated the animals in its care and that its principals embezzled funds,
Neo’s Nation succeeded Chicle Animal Foundation in 2021, which in turn took over in 2019 after Angela Zilar, the longtime manager and shelter champion, retired. The need for a new shelter predates all of it.
During a 2016 tour, Zilar said water and sewer lines were difficult to access and a shell around the building created an environment that let rodents thrive. She could, she said, smell mice in the building, to the detriment of the health of the humans and animals inside.
The Benton-Franklin Humane Society stepped in to care for the animals after the abrupt departure of Neo’s Nation. It began transitioning out of the role on July 15 and the city transitioned in. As of Aug. 5, Pasco is the sole operator.
The city praised the Humane Society for its assistance and said it has taken steps to improve the operation, including partnering with veterinary hospitals and making it easier for the public to adopt animals by ensuring they are spayed or neutered before the adoption takes place.
It advertised for a new animal control operator in June, with an Aug. 5 deadline to submit proposals.
In the interim, it is ready to build a facility with capacity to house offices and up to 60 dogs and 90 cats at 1311 S. 18th Ave., near the existing animal shelter behind the Pasco Youth Baseball Complex.
The city still needs a building permit and other approvals before it can begin. It advertised for contractors in early August.
Construction will take place from November 2022 to August 2023, according to an application submitted by Zach Ratkai, Pasco’s director of administrative and community services.
The existing animal shelter, which is 70 years old, is notorious for dank conditions and inadequate room for the animals that come into the facility.
The new building will have offices and a fenced area for animals as well as a meet-and-greet area for animal adoptions. The site borders the Sacajawea Heritage Trail, where volunteers regularly walk shelter dogs.
Go to animalsheltertc.com.
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