Oak Harbor looks at options for animal control management

Oak Harbor city officials are looking for someone to provide and operate an animal shelter to care for lost and unwanted pets.

The city council voted Tuesday to issue a request for proposals for animal control management and operations services, even though it’s still unclear whether the Navy is going to continue to partner with the city on animal control.

Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, commonly known as WAIF, has been managing the city’s rundown shelter on the Navy Seaplane Base for years, but the Navy is closing it down because of its state of disrepair.

The State Auditor’s Office recommended the city prepare a request for proposals to seek out qualified organizations, instead of just handing a new contract to WAIF.

The applicant must have a minimum of five years experience in housing and caring for dogs and cats.

The primary shelter facility must be within 15 miles of the Oak Harbor Police Department.

City Administrator Larry Cort said the WAIF shelter, south of Coupeville, would qualify.

But if the primary shelter is more than five miles away, the applicant must also provide a temporary shelter within the five-mile radius where the animal control officer and police can take both cats and dogs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Under the current arrangement, the city provides animal control at base housing and shelter strays from base housing; in exchange, the Navy provides the animal shelter building.

The facility license expires at the end of the year, but the Navy has granted an extension to allow the city to use the shelter until Sept. 30 of 2013.

As a result, the council approved a contract extension with WAIF for continued shelter management until that date. The city pays WAIF $7,000 a month.

But the issue of the Navy’s future involvement with the city remains unclear. In answering a question from a council member, WAIF shelter manager Shari Bibich said about half of the animals at the Oak Harbor shelter come from base housing and about 75 percent are from military personnel throughout the community.

Cort said city officials have had informal talks with Navy officials about continuing to partner on animal control, but nothing has been decided.


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