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Oak Harbor finalizes new location for animal shelter

Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green checks out the new location for the city’s animal shelter, which will open this fall. - Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green checks out the new location for the city’s animal shelter, which will open this fall.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times

Wayward dogs found in Oak Harbor will soon get new digs where they can wait for their people to find them.

City officials struggled to figure out how to deal with strays since Whidbey Island Naval Air Station announced last year that the current animal shelter on the Seaplane Base would be closed and razed.

It took a lot of work on behalf of Police Chief Ed Green and City Administrator Larry Cort, but most of the pieces have finally fallen together.

The new shelter for strays should open by early October.

Oak Harbor City Council approved a contract Tuesday with the nonprofit organization Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, or WAIF, to manage the new facility.

Under terms of the contract, the city will pay WAIF a total of $100,000 a year, which is a $15,000 increase from the expired contract. The new contract runs from Sept. 30 to the end of 2015.

“It helps with some of our increased costs, but it still doesn’t cover all that we do for the shelter,” said Shari Bibich, WAIF shelter manager. She said the payment from the city is supplemented by donations and profits from the WAIF thrift stores.

Green explained that the city put out a request for proposals for the shelter management. They received two responses, but only WAIF’s proposal met the guidelines.

The city entered into a lease with option to purchase of a commercial kennel on Goldie Road, not far from the VFW.  The acquisition will cost the city $2,500 a month, plus an additional $10,000 for the option to purchase.

Green said the old-fashioned kennels are currently being remodeled to comply with hygiene and safety requirements for modern animal shelters.

The work will cost about $20,000.

For now, only eight or nine kennels will be completed. Green said there won’t be adoptions out of the facility at first, but it will just be a holding facility.

Stray dogs and cats will be brought to the kennel, where their owners can come bail them out. The shelter will be open late one day a week.

After the requisite number of days, the pets will be transferred the WAIF’s ownership and taken to the group’s larger Coupeville shelter or a cat adoption center, where they can be adopted out.

Green said the kennel has room to expand and in the future it could be turned into an adoption center.

“We have a lot of ideas,” he said.

Under its contract with the city, WAIF will receive a one-time payment of up to $15,000 to upgrade the cat adoption facility in Oak Harbor. The new facility on Goldie Road just doesn’t have enough room for all the stray cats, Bibich said.

Last year, the Oak Harbor shelter took in 260 stray cats, but only 13 of those were picked up by their owners.

By comparison, they received 332 lost dogs and 184 were redeemed by owners.

One piece unresolved involves the Navy. In the past, the Navy allowed the city to use the ramshackle building on the Seaplane Base as a shelter in return for animal control services on base property.

Green said the city is negotiating with the property management firm on the base to come up with a new agreement for the service. The idea, he said, is the company will pay a fee, which will offset the city’s costs.

 

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