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News Release May 24, 2012

From The Pocahontas Times. Commission to seek bids for animal shelter contract. By Pamela Pritt, Editor (Used by permission.)

The Pocahontas County Commission decided to rebid the animal shelter contract last week after much discussion and input from a courtroom adversary.

Commissioners made the move on a 2-1 vote, with commissioner Martin Saffer saying nay.

Saffer said if the commissioners are satisfied with the services provided by last year's bid-winner, Sandy Mallow, at Last Chance Animal Shelter, then there was no reason to re-bid the contract.

Commissioner Jamie Walker disagreed.

"I think if we're going to hire it out, we need to bid it," Walker said. But Walker said he was also of the opinion that the county needs to own a shelter and hire a manager.

With a budget of $50,000, that seems unlikely, according to John Fitzgerald, co-owner of Allegheny Recreation Center, where the animal shelter was located during the 2010-11 fiscal year. ARC is housed in the former Hanover Shoe factory, which is county property.

"With these kinds of requirements (as spelled out in a legal advertisement last year), it will end up the same as last year," Fitzgerald said. "You are going to get somebody to bid and they ain't going to be able to meet these requirements. You waive these requirements to take a lesser bid, you might as well not even bid (it)."

Mallow won the bid last year by about $30,000; however, she told commissioners that she needed a $5,000 advance in order to fulfill the bid requirements. The commission voted to advance the money, but ARC's owners say in court documents that she has never improved her shelter to the commission's published requirements. Judge James Rowe has given Fitzgerald and Duncan a month to fortify their case.

Walker said he wanted to change the bid requirements for the coming fiscal year, because the county is taking responsibility for more animals than required since pet owners drop off unwanted animals at the shelter, claiming they are nuisances.

He said the solution to overpopulation at the shelter is to keep the animals the required number of days and then euthanize them, instead of participating in adoption and rescue efforts.

Saffer said the tenor of the community did not agree with that.

"With these kinds of requirements, we'll end up the same as last year," Walker predicted. "You waive these requirements to take a lesser bid, you might as well not even bid."

Walker voted against the bid requirements, which appear in the legal advertisement section of this week's newspaper.