St. Louis has made remarkable progress over the past few years in becoming a more pet-friendly city. That has meant acting on our resolution to treat all animals, beloved pets and ferals, humanely.
Because of its age and obsolete design, the City's Animal Control Center is no longer able to provide humane care for stray animals. After consultation with its staff, I have decided to close the facility by summer, at the latest.
Several years ago, the City first made the decision to replace the Animal Control Center. The plan ' which I strongly supported - was to build a new facility, privately financed by animal lovers. Unfortunately, fund raising for Animal House has lagged.
I no longer believe we can wait for the economy to rebound and fundraising to improve for taking action. So, in the next few weeks, the City will issue an RFP or RFQ from non-profit animal shelters to take over the Center’s function. I am confident that one of the region's many animal care organizations will give these pets the best possible chance to find new homes.
I have already spoken to the leaders of Animal House. While they have not raised enough money to build a new facility, they believe they have raised enough money to retrofit an existing building. Therefore, they plan to compete in the process.
Under the new system, City employees will continue to respond to complaints about abandoned or dangerous animals. However, once they have picked up the animals, the new entity will take care of the animals until permanent homes can be found for them.
The Health Department has studied various options and believes this sort of approach has worked well in other cities and will work well in St. Louis.
While we go through the competitive process of selecting a service provider, I have asked acting Health Director Pam Walker to focus as much of her time and energy as necessary to make sure the dogs and cats are treated well during the transition.