The current City dog pound is run-down, worn-out, generally unsatisfactory - and almost all the public funds available for it are being spent on actual animal control and not on facility maintenance. With other urgent needs pressing on the City’s budget, a publicly funded new City pound is pretty much out of the question.
For the last several years, though, a group of volunteers has been working to help build and finance a new City pound. The new facility the group has proposed will be a state-of-the art, “green” building designed by a major St. Louis architectural firm. Its grounds will include a walking track, flowering trees, benches, new parking, graded playing fields, and picnic areas. It will be sited near major highways allowing animal control officers to reach any part of the City quickly. The project has my support, as well as the support of its neighbors, its alderman, aldermanic president Jim Shrewsbury, comptroller Darlene Green, and dozens of private funders.
There is, however, an obstacle: the pound, which has been looking for a site for years, is planned for Arsenal-Ellendale Park in south City.
The potential obstacle is an effort by an activist group to require a public vote on any proposal to sell, lease, or otherwise use city park land for other purposes - including this one. Even the mention of such a hurdle has stymied the private group raising the money for the project, who had hoped to break ground next year. The group’s director told a weekly newspaper that it will no longer fundraise until she knows that the group can use the park site.
Jack Danforth has observed wryly that five people with placards can kill anything in St. Louis. I certainly hope that is not the case with the new Animal House.