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Healdsburg officials to get update on troubled animal shelter Monday

Healdsburg Animal Shelter officials tonight will provide an update on their operation to the City Council, capping a turbulent year in an organization rife with staff turnover and resignations on the board of directors.

Despite work being halted indefinitely on its $3.5 million new shelter, mired in a lawsuit alleging construction defects, shelter officials say things have improved.

"After all the drama over the last year, it's great to get to a stabilized place," Bill Anderson, head of the board of directors, said Friday.

He said a new director of animal control services has just been hired, donations are rolling in, and a leaky roof is being fixed on the cramped, 52-year-old cinder block shelter.

"I feel like now we can get back to what we do best," he said. "We have had some extraordinarily large gifts recently. People are ready to start supporting it again."

Anderson said any contributions are going to the "care and maintenance" of the existing shelter operation and not toward the unfinished, much larger shelter across the street on Westside Road.

Shelter officials allege in a lawsuit that, due to faulty design and negligent construction including a cracked foundation, the 7,500-square-foot facility is "effectively uninhabitable."

They estimate it will take more than a year to resolve the litigation and collect any funds to either fix or dismantle the building, which has been sitting nearly finished but unoccupied since late 2011.

"The building is completely frozen until the litigation works out," Anderson said, adding that he believes eventually funds will be awarded to enable the facility to open.

"I'm not counting on anything happening in 2013," he said.

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