Whidbey News-Times


City of Oak Harbor entering into lease for new animal shelter

Whidbey News-Times Co-editor
May 16, 2013 · Updated 11:39 AM

Leanne Scribner, an employee at the Oak Harbor animal shelter, takes Kratos out for exercise. / Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Kratos will lose his yard with the beautiful view of the water — not that he cares about that sort of thing — but he will gain spacious living quarters in a spot that’s more convenient for people to visit.

That is, unless someone adopts the sweet, giant-headed pit bull before the big move, planned for September.

Oak Harbor officials finally found a new site for the city animal shelter.

Last week, Oak Harbor City Council members approved a lease agreement with an option to purchase the Freedom Kennels on Goldie Road.

The acquisition will cost the city $2,500 a month, plus an additional $10,000 for the option to purchase.

If all goes well, the city expects to remodel the kennels at a cost of up to $20,000 prior to the move.

“It would be really nice to be off the base and somewhere that has better access,” said Shari Bibich, shelter manager for Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation.

The group, commonly called WAIF, manages the city’s current dog-and-cat pound.

The city has struggled with the animal-shelter issue for years. The city’s current shelter is housed in a decrepit building on the Navy’s Seaplane base.

The facility has inadequate space, improper ventilation and no bathroom for workers. It’s hidden away next to a beach on the Seaplane Base.

With tightened base security measures, access to the current animal shelter is a perennial problem for both workers and those looking to adopt pets.

Under an agreement with the city, the Navy provided the shelter in exchange for animal control services.

The Navy acknowledges problems with the building and announced last year that is closing down the shelter.

The city has until the end of September to relocate.

The city has sought an alternative facility for years. In December, city officials issued a request for proposals for animal control management and operations services.

City officials said they were looking for someone to both provide and operate an animal shelter.

Instead, officials decided that purchasing the Freedom Kennels may be the solution to their facility problem.

City Administrator Larry Cort said the three-year lease with option to purchase gives the city time to evaluate the facility.

“This could be our long-term solution,” he said.

Freedom Kennels has been in use since 1976 and “has been reasonably well maintained given the building’s age,” said Cort. It has 40 heated spaces for dogs, offers access to short outdoor runs. A small dog-grooming room will be converted into a cat room.

Cort said city officials have worked with people from WAIF —  the likely contractor to operate the facility ‚Äî and identified modifications necessary to convert the building into a public animal shelter.

Cort said the work will likely cost an estimated $15,000 to $20,000.

The lease will cost $2,500 a month, plus the city will pay half the property taxes and all the utilities bills.

The city secured the option for purchase for $10,000. If the city ends up purchasing the property, the $10,000 will be used towards the sale price.

The agreed-upon price for the property is $267,000, which is the assessed value.

The kennel is on 7.2 acres, most of which is wooded. Cort explained that the city won’t have access to the woods during the lease period, but it would be part of the purchase. He said he’s not sure what the city may do with the woods beyond creating dog-walking trails.

As for Kratos, the move may be a godsend given the near-constant traffic of potential adoptive families streaming by the Goldie Road kennels. He’s lived at the Seaplane base shelter since arriving as a stray in August of 2012, which makes him the longest resident of the facility.

He’s more than ready for a permanent home.


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