2008-09-11 / Editorial

• VIEWPOINT •

Jamestown to enter into an agreement to use North Kingstown's animal shelter
By Barbara Szepatowski

After years of discussion and debate about whether to build an animal shelter on Jamestown, a temporary solution has been found. After a very positive meeting between the towns of Jamestown and North Kingstown, it was agreed that Jamestown would immediately present North Kingstown with a proposal for housing Jamestown's pets. This arrangement should be finalized within the next week or two.

Jamestown has always had an agreement with North Kingstown to house dogs picked up as a result of Jamestown leash law violations, at the North Kingstown Animal Shelter on Hamilton-Allenton Road. The owner pays North Kingstown for boarding fees and Jamestown for the leash law violation fine.

Sadly the real problem on our island has always been the number of homeless domesticated cats and pocket pets. Whether it was due to death, divorce, a move, or new allergies, from August 1999 on, Paws and Claws slowly became the place to advertise or bring Jamestown pets that needed a new home. Over 500 animals including cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, gerbils and a handful of dogs successfully found new loving families. After the building our store was located in was sold, the new owner decided he did not want animals in his building. This caused a serious dilemma, since the Town of Jamestown had not had to bear the cost of caring for these animals for more than eight years.

Since 2004, the staff of Paws and Claws and more than 50 potential volunteers have had serious talks with the town and our residents about whether Jamestown really needs its own animal shelter. Back and forth, back and forth the discussions went. The 2006 announced "potential sale" of our favorite site, the garage behind the town offices at 44 Southwest Ave., ended the most plausible and quick fix solution. The lovely old water treatment plant would have also made a wonderful home for Jamestown's Animal Shelter, the Osprey Program and the Coyote Study. Federal Homeland Security regulations and the town's potential future needs nixed that site.

In 2005, 60 Jamestown animal lovers spent 24 hours a day, for four days, renovating the North Kingstown Animal Shelter. We then helped to set-up the "Friends of the North Kingstown Animal Shelter" as a non-profit corporation. It is fitting that our animals will now get to use this wonderful shelter.

Paws and Claws will be working with the municipal staff of the two towns, the "Jamestown Teen Center," and the "Friends of the North Kingstown Animal Shelter" to set up volunteer programs for Jamestown residents. Senior high school kids are also welcome to complete their internship programs at the shelter. We are also always looking for anyone who needs to complete community service hours to help with construction or renovation projects at the North Kingstown Animal Shelter.

Usually financial reasons are why towns do not want to add services. In our case, the biggest hurdle is not raising the capital, but trying to locate the building and a dog park in an area where no one will complain. In the meantime, this sharing of community services with the Town of North Kingstown will provide Jamestown with a structured animal shelter environment, as well as allow us to continue to explore our island's needs.

In the end, hopefully Jamestown will have its own animal shelter. During the fall of 2008, we will reconvene the animal shelter meetings, finalize the Jamestown Animal Shelter's Board of Directors, and once again investigate potential sites.

I applaud Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Chief of Police Thomas Tighe for making this solution happen. I also thank my fellow Councilman William Kelly for constantly reminding us to dot all of our "I's," and cross all of our "T's." Please call Paws and Claws at 423-9677 to volunteer at the North Kingstown Animal Shelter.

Editors note: The writer serves on the Jamestown Town Council.

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