The Marshall Animal Shelter is on probation for not meeting state shelter standards. The question is to renovate or rebuild. City officials are having a hard time agreeing what to do.
The group Friends of Marshall Animal Center held a meeting at Central Perks in downtown Marshall Thursday night to educate people on the status of the shelter.
Amanda Smith is a member of the group. She says she wanted the people at the meeting to learn more about the current situation and help convince the commissioners that renovating the building won’t work.
Mara Hartsell with the Texas Star Rescue in Longview says her rescue pulls from Marshall shelter frequently. She says she showed up to the meeting because she very passionate about animals and wants to educate people about what's going on.
"We're hoping that the community meeting gets together some like-minded and actually gets people to take action," said Hartsell. "Write city officials. Speak out in the community. Let other people know, let their friends know what can be done because if a lot people collaborate they can actually create change."
Smith and her husband Ed say about 80 percent of the animals that go to the shelter have to be euthanized because there isn’t space for them.
"So really all we’re running here is an animal extermination facility," said former mayor and current city commissioner Ed Smith. "That’s what this is all about down here. We can do better than that."
Ed Smith said the $200,000 of this year’s budget was allocated to start the construction of a new $2 million shelter. "It was understood that we would be moving forward on this and there is no good reason for them not to at this point."
Current mayor Eric Neal says that wasn’t the case.
When asked if there was money earmarked for the animal shelter the mayor answered, ”No, this money was never allocated to anything specifically.”
Neal says the $200,000 was meant to fix maintenance issues around the city, such as repairing roofs and replacing old air conditioning units, not just the animal shelter. He also says the city can't afford to take on the debt to build a $2 million shelter at this time.
“There’s a lot of problems at this city," said Neal. "We are fully aware that there is a significant problem at the current animal shelter that does need to be addressed, because like I said, our facility has been put on probation."
Neal says the building has been on probation by state officials since 2013 for not meeting standards. He also says he is really surprised that this hasn’t been taken care of before.
Recently, an appraisal was done by an outside contractor on what it would cost to get the shelter up to state compliance, according to the mayor. He says those fixes would cost $40,000.
At next Thursday's commissioner meeting, Neal plans to have an agenda item that would give the shelter the $40,000 to make the necessary fixes. He also plans on having an agenda item that could give the shelter an additional $100,000 from the budget to make even more improvements.
The mayor says maybe if they fix what they can now, then in a few years they can look at building a new animal shelter.
Ed Smith says that won't fix things. "It’s a band-aid at best and it’s not going to last very long. I guarantee the next time the state inspector comes down here he’ll be able to write us up.”
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