Differences Over Animal Adoptions Threatens To Bring Out The Animal In Those At The County Commission Meeting

Marlinton, WV – It seemed a simple enough proposal as outlined by John Fitzgerald, co-owner of the ARC building in Marlinton, that houses the county animal shelter.

“We are asking the County Commission to extend our monthly payment of $6200.00 for the month of July for a transitional period” says Fitzgerald. “This would provide the animals with housing and care until the bid is awarded.”

Fitzgerald made the proposal during the Pocahontas County Commission meeting Tuesday night. The current contract for animal control is held by the ARC in partnership with the Pocahontas County SPCA and expires at the end of June. ARC has indicated that their partnership with the SPCA will not continue and that they intend to bid on the contract themselves.

Commission President David Fleming says they hope to award the animal control contract for 2011-2012 during a special meeting on June 28th. However, the bid specifies that it’s conditional on a site inspection of the winning bidder’s facility. With the new contract beginning on July 1st, that doesn’t leave much time for a physical inspection, hence ARC’s request to extend the contract for a month as transition.

Jay Miller, speaking for the SPCA, says there are other services that will end on June 30th with the expiration of the current contract.

“As of the 30th we will stop providing adoptive services and record keeping and veterinary care because we do not intend to bid on this contract” he says. “We are also looking for a transition to whoever the successor organization is.”

As a non-profit organization, the SPCA has also been able to use Petfinders, a national clearing house group that helps adopt out animals from shelters across the country. The ARC does not currently have non-profit status and therefore can’t use this service. For county resident Donnelle Oxley, that’s reason enough for her to encourage the County Commission to not award the bid to ARC. Here is an excerpt from a letter she read to the Commission.

“Most importantly they have no effective way to advertise their animals so they can be adopted” says Oxley. “In other words they will be just a rescue facility; they have no provision whatsoever for adoption. Thus increasing the likelihood of many animals having to be put down and turned away.”

Oxley spoke in favor of awarding the bid to former animal control officer Sandy Mallow who turned in a sealed bid for the contract at the meeting. Mallow has had a non-profit animal rescue business of her own for several years. But Fitzgerald points out that non-profit status is not a requirement in the advertised bid.

“Nowhere on that bid requirement do I see that you have to have Petfinder; there’s other means of adoption” he says.

“Yes there are advertising in the local paper, but apparently most of the adoptions do not come locally, they come from out of county” says Oxley. “Therefore that means you have to have a relationship with rescue or foster facilities in other locations.”

Commissioner Fleming made a motion to pay ARC an additional $6200.00 for the month of July with Commissioner Martin Saffer offering to second the motion. However, when Fleming asked for further discussion, ARC owners JP Duncan and Fitzgerald decided to withdraw the offer.

“I don’t believe so” says Duncan, “not at this point, not with all the other points that’s been brought up.”

“Let Ms. Oxley keep it for the next month in July” says Fitzgerald, “but the 30th day if we don’t get the contract Ms. Oxley and her friends ought to be down there gettin’ their animals and the cages, thank you.”

The Pocahontas County Commission is expected to open the bids for the 2011-2012 animal control contract on June 28th.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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