Friends of Kitties & Kanines, a nonprofit board that oversees the Kitties and Kanines Veterinarian Clinic approached the Fort Smith Board of Directors at the Tuesday (June 5) regular meeting about becoming the city’s impound for animals collected by animal control.
Kitties and Kanines is in the process of remodeling a building at 4200 Phoenix Ave. to become the new location of their clinic, now located in Quarry Shopping Center at 4900 Rogers Ave. If the city were to enter into a contract with them for impound, that building would be renovated to include being impound center.
Plans have the building being 12,000 square feet for their needs of a veterinary clinic that provides low cost spay and neuter services in Fort Smith and an adoption center. If the city entered into a contract with them, Brenda Altman, vice president of Friends of Kitties and Kanines, said the organization would add 5,500 to 6,000 square feet to the building to accommodate housing. One side of the building would be the vet clinic and the other would be the shelter. They two entities would operate with separate boards, budgets and employees. The facility would be able to house 250 to 300 dogs and 75 to 100 cats, according to Gaevon Hoover, a board member for Friends of Kitties and Kanines.
“For 10 years, we have supported a vet clinic in Quarry Shopping Center, providing over 52,000 spay and neuter surgeries; a shelter that adopts out several 100 animals every year; supported animal rescues throughout the area; and donated food for pets,” Hoover said. “This solution would put our animals under one roof where there would be full-time veterinarians and a full-time surgery center.”
The shelter would be a no-kill shelter, with the knowledge that if an animal is too ill, too injured or not adoptable because it is a vicious animal and a vet made the call, the animal would be euthanized, Altman said. The shelter would work with other states and national rescue groups to transport animals to be adopted as needed, Hoover said.
The proposal was met with enthusiastic applause from a packed room of citizens attending the meeting and from some board members who agreed entering into a contract with Kitties and Kanines would be advantageous to the city. However, City Attorney Jerry Canfield said it would be highly unusual for the board to negotiate a contract with a vendor during a board meeting, which appeared to be happening at one point in the meeting.
“The item on the agenda is for the city administrator (Carl Geffken) initiate necessary actions. I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never seen the board try to negotiate a contract. … I think the appropriate action is to let Mr. Geffken proceed, and he can also talk to any other vendor who comes forth with a proposal. In fact he may want to issue a deadline for proposals. All who want should have the opportunity to make a proposal. I think otherwise we are getting the proverbial cart before the horse,” Canfield said.
The resolution before the board Tuesday night was to direct the city administrator to initiate necessary actions to evaluate animal control services, animal impoundment and a dog licensing program in the city of Fort Smith. The resolution passed unanimously. Following passage of the resolution Altman asked if they could start taking animals picked up by animal control.
Animal control is not picking up animals, though they are responding to calls. Jeff Dingman, deputy city administrator, said if an animal was in need of medical help, animal control will pick them up and take them to a veterinarian. Dingman said the city does have the authority to enter into a temporary agreement with a shelter for impounded animals while negotiations are ongoing if need be.
Geffken said he has advised staff during a five minute break in the meeting following the animal control discussions to move forward with advertising for vendors in the city who want to participate in some way with animal control to start the necessary process and there is possibility a temporary agreement could be reached, though one is not in works at the moment.
“We want to do what is best for our city and our animals,” Geffken said.
Altman said they did have the ability to take animals if they city and Kitties and Kanines had a temporary agreement to do so.