Healdsburg, animal shelter officials discussing worst-case scenario

With the survival of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter in question, city officials and directors of the organization are discussing contingency plans for animal control services.

On the heels of a public letter to the community appealing for funds, Shelter Board Chairman Art Feagles said this week that the shelter only has enough money to keep the doors open until September.

He said there is a $200,000 shortfall in the shelter's approximate $500,000 annual budget.

"The situation is probably, at this point, the most stressed it's ever been," he said.

Shelter and city officials confirmed they have been meeting to discuss alternatives for handling animal control.

The city pays the animal shelter $115,000 per year to handle injured, stray, vicious and unwanted animals, as well as for adoptions and licensing.

But most of the shelter's budget comes from community donations, which dropped as the organization became embroiled in controversy over a partially built $3.5 million new shelter, infighting and rapid turnover on the board of directors.

"Part of the discussion is, if they can't fulfill the agreement, what are our next steps as a city?" Police Lt. Matt Jenkins said Friday.

The police department is in charge of overseeing the contract with the shelter, which expires in November.

"We're looking at different options if something were to happen," Jenkins said.

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