Serving Franklin County, WA

Animal shelter is facing challenges

RITZVILLE – Kyya Grant and Anthony Daily of Adams County Pet Rescue highlighted their concerns about an abundance of large dogs and inadequate funding during the Oct. 24 Adams County commissioners meeting.

“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Grant said. “In the past, we’ve had substantial donations that carried us, even when we had fewer dogs.”

She said Pet Rescue, 1961 W. Bench Road in Othello, collects $170,000-$200,000 in adoption fees annually, but that’s not enough to cover expenses.

Deficits are running more than $200,000, she said.

“We’ve taken in over 100 dogs this year,” she said. “Without sufficient donations, we’ve found ourselves short.”

Grant suggested the county and each city contribute to the shelter to help cover ongoing costs.

County Chairman Jay Weise sympathized with their dilemma, but noted the commission is facing similar budget constraints on a broader level.

“We’re dealing with similar issues,” he said. “What’s next year going to look like? How do we tackle all the needs and wants of the various parties?”

Grant noted that recent pandemic-related lockdowns prevented many animals from being spayed and neutered.

“So, more dogs had puppies, which led to an increase in the canine population,” she said. “We’ve reached a point where we can’t accept more dogs.

“And those numbers probably won’t decline over the next few years.”

Some people have suggested euthanizing dogs to trim the deficit, an option Grant categorically rejects.

“For one thing, if we become known as a ‘kill shelter,’ our donations will dry up,” she said.

Pet rescue shelters statewide have an excess of large breeds, particularly huskies, shepherds and pit bulls. She noted people considering pet adoption often prefer apartment-sized dogs, and some landlords enforce size restrictions on dogs allowed in their buildings.

“Having a house with a yard is becoming a luxury, especially on the west side of the state,” she said.” There’s less interest in large dogs.”

Another factor in declining pet adoptions has been inflation.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures the cost of all items, rose by 3.7% from September 2022 to September of this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The same agency reported an 8.2% increase from September 2021 to September 2022, and a 5.4% increase from September 2020 to September 2021.

As a result, animal food and related items are becoming more expensive, Grant said.

Meanwhile, the number of stray animals being left at shelters is climbing.

Since June 2021, Shelter Animals Count, a national database, reported a 21.5% increase in animal intakes in Washington state.

“We’re getting 5-6 calls a day from Franklin County, Grant County, Chelan County, even Spokane and the west side of the state,” she said. “Other shelters are asking us to take their dogs.

“But we can’t because we’re focusing on stray animals.”

Adams County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Flyckt suggested meeting with members of the county’s legislative delegation.

“Perhaps they can sponsor legislation in the coming 2024 session to create a local animal control or animal shelter district, similar to a fire or cemetery district,” he said.

Presumably, such a solution would open the door to additional funding, he said, noting such legislative options might gain bipartisan support, as well.

“In most communities, whether they’re liberal Democrat or conservative Republican, whether urban or rural, animal control is becoming an issue,” he said.

Although Grant said she is working to address the issue on a legislative level, “That’s a long-term solution. In the short term, without our previous level of donations, it’s tough.

“So, this year, we’re trying to make folks aware of the need.”

Many people have misconceptions about the shelter and how it operates, according to Grant. “We’re encouraging people to visit our facility,” she said. “We want to show them what’s really happening.”

 

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