The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Plans for city’s new animal shelter progressing; CR serving Marion during Humane Society shelter probe

In City Hall, Humane Society, Jerry McGrane, Marion on April 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Police Sgt. Kent Choate, who oversees the city of Cedar Rapids’ animal control operation, reported this week that City Hall is moving ahead on its plans to move the city shelter from an old sewage treatment plant seven miles from downtown to a more centralized location.

“We’re looking at a lot of different options. There is no front-runner right now,” Choate said.

Among the options are empty big-box stores and other buildings closer to the center of the city. The seven-mile trip to the existing shelter on Old River Road SW just isn’t very efficient, Choate pointed out.

He noted, too, that the City Council has set aside $1.5 million in its capital improvement budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 for a new animal shelter.

Developments at the city’s animal shelter have taken a side seat in recent weeks to those at a second shelter in the metro area, the Cedar Valley Humane Society shelter.

In late March, the Marion Police Department raided the Humane Society shelter and seized billing records. The department continues to investigate possible overbilling.

In response, the Humane Society has appointed one of its volunteers to oversee the management of its shelter operation and has asked the Iowa Veterinary Board and the Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission to take a look at the shelter’s practices.

More recently, Jerry McGrane, Cedar Rapids council member, has wondered if the time might be right for the city to approach the Humane Society anew to see about joining forces on a combined animal shelter. Early efforts at that over the last year failed.

City Manager Jim Prosser told the council just last week that city staff was in the process of talking to the Humane Society again.

Choate this week, though, noted that the missions of the two groups are different. The city’s first mission is animal control, while the Humane Society’s first mission is not that, he said.

Choate noted that the city of Cedar Rapids is providing temporary animal control and shelter services to the city of Marion pending the Marion Police Department’s investigation into the Humane Society’s animal shelter.

Marion’s City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said it made sense for the city of Marion to turn to the city of Cedar Rapids for now until the probe of the Humane Society’s shelter is complete and its results known.

Pluckhahn did not rule out a future in which the city of Marion permanently contracted with the city of Cedar Rapids for animal control or shelter services. That’s not apt to happen, he suggested, if Cedar Rapids’ new shelter ended up being located far from the city of Marion as is the city’s current shelter. But if a spot in easy reach of Marion was chosen for the city’s new animal shelter site, that might allow Marion to take a look, Pluckhahn said.

The Humane Society’s shelter has been serving areas in Linn County outside of the city of Cedar Rapids.

Earlier this year, the Humane Society announced its own expansion plans.



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