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City Faces Gap in Animal Sheltering

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October 6, 2010 by wcobserver

County Wide Shelter Coming

By Susan McCarthy

West Fork-The city of West Fork will be faced with developing a new plan for animal sheltering when a three year contract with a local veterinarian expires April 8, 2011.  A county-wide animal shelter will top a November Washington County Quorum Court meeting, but the City of West Fork will need a gap plan until the new shelter is opened.

Dr. Linda Ford, who owns Noah’s Ark Veterinary Services, said she met with city officials in late July to let them know she would not be interested in renewing her contract. Ford has acted as the city’s shelter since she was approached by former mayor, Jeff Baker who brokered a deal to have Ford’s business serve as the city’s shelter.  Ford said she built an addition to hold shelter animals separately from her veterinarian business.

“I think our animal shelter, here, is tired of dealing with it.  They’re not interested in continuing” Michael“Butch” Bartholomew, Business Manager for the City of West Fork said.

“They take a lot of heat,” said Bartholomew.  “People don’t like their animal arrested.  They have to pay to get them back and often don’t have kind words to say.  It takes up a lot of their time and I understand why they’d rather use their time doing something else.”

Prior to the contract with Noah’s Ark, the City of West Fork shuttled animals to the Fayetteville Animal Shelter, but this won’t likely be an option for West Fork going forward according to Tony Rankin, Programs Manger for the Fayetteville Animal Shelter.

“We are actually ending contracts on Dec. 31, 2011 with all cities we’re contracted with,” said Rankin. He said the Fayetteville Animal Shelter has already notified cities by letter including Greenland, Elkins, Farmington and the Washington County Sheriff’s office.

Rankin said that 40 percent of the Fayetteville Animal Shelter’s intake comes from the contracted cities and that as the area’s population has grown, so has the number of animals brought to the shelter.

Claudette Cardwell, Chairperson of the Washington County Animal Concern Advisory Board confirmed a county-wide shelter is in the works and the goal is to have it open in 2012.  She said the board will be presenting costs for building and operating a shelter at a Quorum Court meeting on Nov. 9, 2010. Cardwell said a county wide shelter has been discussed for a number of years, but the Fayetteville Animal Shelter’s decision to limit their intake to Fayetteville has accelerated plans to develop a county solution.

“At the end of the contract, if the City of West Fork hasn’t located another contract to handle their stray animal problem, I’m willing to continue to take their animals on a temporary basis until they find an alternate solution,” said Ford.

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