The St. Paul Animal Shelter has been without a home since 2016 when the building was damaged by a large storm. At Thursday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting in the St. Paul Council Chambers, Josiah Clarke and other Animal Shelter staff spoke to council about the urgent need to construct a new facility in St. Paul.
“Without an animal shelter that functions properly, the risk of disease transmission from wild and at-large animals increases dramatically,” Clarke said. “The population of at-large animals also goes unchecked, and there’s a large cost involved in sending animals to other facilities and shelters in different communities.”
Since the loss of the Shelter’s building in 2016, Clarke, who manages the Shelter, and others have received calls and requests to handle 33 animals-at-large (29 dogs and four cats), and suspect that the number would be higher if they had a physical facility out of which to operate.
Construction and Renovation
The current plan for the new Shelter is to build a brand-new, 40×40, 1,600 square-foot building that would have room to house 25-30 cats and four dogs in an external intermodal container. In addition to the new building, they also plan to renovate and refurbish an existing quonset hut (not to be confused with the quonset hut discussed at the May 14, 2018, Council Meeting) that would be connected to the new building. The quonset would allow them to house more dogs, which take up more room and require more attention than cats. In the meantime, Clarke has been keeping what animals he can on his own property. Those he can’t keep are sent away to shelters in Bonnyville, Lloydminster, and across Canada.
The Shelter currently has $208,500 set aside for the construction of the new building, but have requested $27,500 each from the County and Town of St. Paul for the renovation of the quonset. The combined $55,000 is just half of what the Shelter needs for renovations.
“We’re applying for a CFEP (Community Facility Enhancement Program) grant in September that would cover half of the renovation costs, but a big part of that grant application is being able to show that we have funds in place to cover the other half. We’ve applied for this grant before but were denied for that very reason.”
Clarke and Shelter employees have also been attempting to raise funds for construction and renovation for years, but fundraising activities have had consistently poor attendance.
“In the public, everyone is supportive of building a shelter,” said one shelter employee. “But when it comes to fundraising, people just aren’t interested. Often times we barely even break even and have even gone into the hole once with fundraisers. We get vocal support, but no support in dollars.”
The County of St. Paul has previously offered $27,500 to the Shelter, but only on the condition that the Shelter receives the CFEP grant for which they are applying. Town Council agreed to match this contribution, with the same condition. A letter of support and commitment will be given to the Shelter to include in their CFEP grant application, and CAO Kim Heyman has also offered her assistance in applying for the grant.
“It’s really nice to have someone finally say ‘yes’,” Clarke said. “With the new Shelter, we’ll be able to control the stay animal population, and will also be able to provide lots of volunteer and community service opportunities.”
No firm construction date has been set in place for the new building, but Clarke estimates that the 40×40 building could be completed by autumn of 2019. Renovation of the adjoining quonset will depend entirely on the receipt of the CFEP grant.