Sam Marcus

Sam Marcus

It’s time for a decision on a new animal shelter.

The Franklin County Humane Society has been working toward a new facility for nearly six years, since receiving nearly $300,000 from the Jean Gravitt estate.

In 2017, significant progress was made through the development of planning, programming and preliminary design with consultants selected through a competitive bid process.

Two formal requests for partial public funding have been made to the city and county. The most recent request incorporated cost savings associated with locating the new shelter on city-owned property and recommendations from the county staff relating to the original plans.

The FCHS has done everything asked of it by city and county officials to improve the plan, and the county, in particular, has verified the size, materials and cost of the new facility through a series of staff meetings with the FCHS and independent analysis by a nationally renowned expert on shelter management (who actually recommended a larger facility than planned).

The FCHS has committed to raising a minimum of $2.5 million of the estimated $4.925 million (all-inclusive, move-in ready) total for the new shelter. This demonstrates significant community support for the project — and confidence, fiduciary responsibility and mindfulness by the FCHS to request as little as possible in limited public resources.

Why should any public funds be committed to the project?

State law requires the county to provide animal care and control. The city through its animal code ordinance brings us an average of 500 animals per year of our 1,800-2,000 received annually. In addition, the FCHS, as the designated animal welfare agency, is obligated to take animals brought us by residents of Frankfort and Franklin County.

Without the FCHS, the county at a minimum, and perhaps the city, would be obligated to provide their own facility and staff for animal care and control.

We have demonstrated tremendous cost savings provided by the FCHS to city and county residents through substantial volunteer efforts, fundraising and innovative programs such as low-cost community Spay/Neuter, TNR clinics to alter community cats, low-cost rabies and vaccination clinics and Pets4Life, which assists residents’ ability to keep their pets instead of surrendering them to the shelter.

What is the urgency?

The FCHS operates in a 50-year-old facility in a flood plain. We believe the community and our elected officials know this is unsustainable. The FCHS spent more than $25,000 this fiscal year on repairs that had to be made to continue operation in the existing location. We would prefer to have utilized this toward the care of our animals. Yet, our success rate for animals has now reached 90%!

What do you do if you don’t receive city/county funding?

While it is not our preference, or probably the best outcome for the animals, the FCHS could build its own facility. We would no longer be able to contract with the city and/or county but would take as many animals from them and our residents as capacity and staffing allowed. The city and/or county would be required to operate and staff their own shelter(s).

We could also partner with one entity of either the city or county if, for example, the city committed funds but the county did not. It should be noted that most humane societies in the state operate separately. Let’s be partners instead on a project we can be proud of in Frankfort! #FundTheShelter

Sam Marcus is president of the Franklin County Humane Society. He can be reached at marcusfurn@iglou.com.

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