Two separate plans for animal shelters have languished for years, but as early as next month, a facility finally should be open and running within the city’s borders.
The Regional Animal Shelter, a group formed in 2003 to build a major facility on property it purchased on Maple Avenue in Johnstown, will pay the city $1 per year to assume operation of an animal shelter the city partially constructed in 2008 in the Department of Public Works yard on West Fulton Street.
The city will pay Regional Animal Shelter $1 per year to provide the city’s shelter needs.
The city currently contracts with local veterinarian Dr. Peter Bluvas for both shelter services and vet care. The city will continue to pay for vet care.
City volunteers, including council members and licensed electricians James Robinson and Donald Ambrosino, worked Sunday to install wiring in the building, which was never finished.
Robinson, the councilman-at-large, said the electrical portion of the project is about half done and will require another eight hours of labor to complete. He said he and Ambrosino, R-3rd Ward, may finish the job this coming weekend.
Former Mayor Tim Hughes was a major advocate for building a city shelter and assigned DPW personnel to perform the work.
As the project developed, an anonymous donor contributed $20,000 for the effort. Robinson said about $3,000 from that donation remains and is being used to purchase materials for both the electrical work and plumbing.
Debby Hupkes, president of Regional Animal Shelter, said opening the city shelter is good for her organization because it may qualify the group for the grant it needs to build the $500,000 facility it is planning on Maple Avenue.
Even when that facility is built, she said Regional Animal Shelter will continue to operate the Gloversville shelter in some form and maintain service to Gloversville.
Hupkes said she is optimistic the city shelter can be open by Aug. 6, the date of the annual Railfest. Robinson said all work might be finished by that deadline.
Councilwoman Ellen Anadio spearheaded the city’s new alliance with Regional Animal Shelter. She said the deal has been in discussion for about four months. It was approved unanimously at the June Common Council meeting.
Anadio got the proposal moving by speaking to the board of the Regional Animal Shelter, which then voted to approve the plan.
The conclusion for both entities, Anadio said, is “it works, it works.”
Anadio said convenience will be almost important as the savings.
The city has been paying Bluvas $45 a week for shelter services, but the fee was recently raised to $75, she said.
The city shelter will hold eight dogs and 10 to 20 cats, Hupkes said. The building planned for Maple Avenue, she said, will have 100 kennels.
When officials inspected the building this year, she said, they discovered some vandalism including broken windows. Since the plan was approved, Hupkes said insulation and other building materials have been donated as well as a washer and dryer.