City Council backs plan for new animal shelter in Lancaster
BY BERNARD HARRIS, Staff Writer
Two weeks after Mayor Rick Gray announced plans to open a new animal shelter in Lancaster, City Council members voted Tuesday to authorize him the power to move forward and provide a start-up loan for the shelter.
The shelter, which initially will be opened at the former National Guard Armory site at 599 Chesapeake Street, will be operated by the newly formed Lancaster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The city will provide the facility in lieu of the Lancaster SPCA not charging the city for the care of stray dogs found within city limits.
Last year, the city spent more than $46,000 to care for about 500 strays. That care, required under state law, was provided by the Humane League of Lancaster County. In November, the city was notified that the Humane League would stop accepting strays from municipalities on Jan. 31.
On Tuesday, City Councilman Jose Urdaneta praised city administrators and SPCA officials for quickly developing a plan to care for strays from the city and the county's other municipalities. Those plans had come together in the space of about six weeks, he said.
Urdaneta introduced a resolution authorizing the mayor to take all necessary steps to establish the shelter.
A second resolution, introduced by Finance Committee chairman Todd Smith, authorized the mayor to provide a $60,000 loan to the Lancaster SPCA for initial operations and start-up costs for the new shelter. Smith noted that the $60,000 was the same amount authorized in the city's 2012 budget for stray dogs. In December, council had approved $150,000 for animal control in the city's 2013 budget, when a solution was still being sought. Other options considered were expected to cost the city $300 to $500 per dog, he noted.
Both resolutions received unanimous approval.
The Chesapeake Street shelter is expected to operate for a few months while a new permanent facility is constructed on city property on Grofftown Road.
Urdaneta also made a public plea for donations to the new nonprofit SPCA.
His daughter, Veronica Michelle, celebrated her 10th birthday with a party on Sunday. In lieu of presents, she asked those coming to the party to bring donations for the shelter.
Dog and cat food and dog toys are waiting to be delivered for the shelter's Feb. 1 opening, Urdaneta said.
"She has given an example to follow," he said.