Harrisonburg city staff to recommend rejecting Anicira's shelter proposal

Published: Apr. 9, 2018 at 2:23 PM EDT
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After completing a detailed stage review of Anicira and the RHSPCA, Harrisonburg City Council is expected to take action on Anicira's proposal to become the city's animal shelter.

Last May, Harrisonburg citizens

, and the Executive Director claimed it would create intake barriers. Anicira then submitted a proposal to become the city's official shelter in a PPEA, or private public partnership.

Now, city staff is recommending Harrisonburg continue with the SPCA and reject Anicira's proposal.

"After doing research, they told us they are going to recommend against our proposal," said Kelsey Cler, with Anicira's Community Outreach and Engagement.

One concern of city staff was capacity. Although Anicira's foster network means the shelter's capacity is greater than just the facility, Virginia law requires the city's animal shelter to house stray animals for a holding period.

"We felt very comfortable with that number, but we didn't have the 2017 numbers, and when we asked the city for those, they didn't have them either," said Cler.

Other concerns include risks with funding.

City staff say in the report that they cannot be sure Anicira will not need more funding than originally requested.

Cler pushed back on that, saying that Anicira honors its contracts.

The RHSPCA said it was pleased with the decision.

"In 2017, we doubled our number of foster care providers, and we also increased adoptions by 8%, as well as rescue groups by 8%," said Executive Director Anne Anderson.

Cler said she understands why Harrisonburg is risk-averse.

"They have been with the SPCA for 40 years. However, not much has changed in those 40 years, while animal welfare is changing," said Cler.

Nonetheless, Anicira says it respects the city's decision.

"However, we hope that they will come up with a solution," said Cler. "There are other options that other places, other communities have gone with, so we really hope that the city will find an alternative solution. Because it's been really clear over the last year that the community needs change."

"It is a community problem and it requires community solutions," said Anderson. "So, we would look to the community, and other animal welfare organizations for support."

One proposed amendment to the city's contract with the RHSPCA would be to require quarterly progress reports, as well as setting benchmarks and goals.

Tuesday night's meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Harrisonburg City Council Chambers.