2008-05-29 / News

Town Council mulls animal shelter plan

By Sam Bari

Members of the Lawn Avenue School eighth grade class posed with teacher Maureen McGuirl and councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski in front of their "Project Good Citizen" presentation proposing a Jamestown animal shelter to the Town Council. Members of the Lawn Avenue School eighth grade class posed with teacher Maureen McGuirl and councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski in front of their "Project Good Citizen" presentation proposing a Jamestown animal shelter to the Town Council. The matter of possibly using the old water treatment building to house unwanted pets was an agenda item at the regular meeting of the Town Council, which followed a workshop on the same topic. The council also discussed a near-term solution to Jamestown's problem of not currently having a contract with another town's shelter.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski started off the discussion. "I want the council to vote on discussing an agreement with North Kingstown. I'm not looking for a vote on whether we can have a shelter. The North Kingstown dog pound is open for another year and we need a place to bring our animals that we can depend on. Meanwhile, we will continue looking for a place to have a small animal shelter in Jamestown."

She reiterated the request she made at the workshop and supported her case by saying that Paws and Claws and the Friends of the Jamestown Animal Shelter have a 7 1/2 year history of taking care of animals in need.

Councilman Robert Sutton who attended the regular meeting said, "I am opposed to the idea generally because animal shelters are expensive and require meeting a lot of regulatory requirements. Making a deal with facilities in other communities makes more sense."

Councilman Michael White said he was not opposed to the idea, but he had more questions. "However, I don't see any harm in looking at it," he said.

"Making a contract with another community like North Kingstown makes more sense to me," councilman Bill Kelly agreed. "The solicitor and town manager should come back to the council with a proposal of how an agreement can work. If we are considering an animal shelter, it cannot be based on the efforts of one individual; it has to work on its own. First you have to draw up a 501(C3) and have an organization, with a board of directors and a chairman to make a presentation," he added.

Szepatowski responded to Kelly's comments, saying, "We have a board of directors for the Friends of the Jamestown Animal Shelter. I'm not even on it," she said.

Council President Julio DiGiando said, "I need to know the cost of an agreement with another town, the history of animal problems on the island, and how they've been handled in the past," he said.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said, "I need a sense of existing conditions, and then to take a look at all the options that are available. We need to know the statistical differences between dogs and cats. The town has never had an animal services policy. Until now, we haven't needed one."

Sutton added, "The animal shelter at the water treatment plant poses some problems. I think it will be too many uses for one place. And I don't think an animal shelter next to the treatment plant for our drinking water is necessarily a good idea."

Szepatowski said that she would come back with all the information requested by the council and asked for the discussion to continue on the next agenda.

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