In Barrington, there is no animal shelter. In Warren, the animal shelter is showing its years. And in Bristol, the price to build a new animal shelter is more expensive than officials ever expected.
But according to Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis, there could be a simple solution to all three towns’ dilemmas: a regional animal shelter.
“I’ve always been receptive to sharing services with other communities,” Mr. DeAngelis said during an interview last week. “There certainly appears to be a need for shared or regionalized services.”
Barrington’s stray cats currently board at the Warren Animal Hospital while dogs go to a shelter in East Providence. The town budgeted $15,000 this year to cover boarding fees for the homeless cats. In year’s past, the town budgeted less money but a few years ago Mr. DeAngelis recognized the growing costs and increased that line item.
“We’re managing without a shelter,” Mr. DeAngelis said.
Still, the veteran town official sees the opportunity for an improved situation. In Warren, the animal shelter is well-worn. Warren Town Manager Tom Gordon said the condition of the Wood Street shelter is “acceptable” and “facilitates” the needs of the town. Warren budgeted $30,000 over the last four years for animal shelter repairs. That money comprises a fraction of the overall animal shelter budget; more than half of the department’s annual budget covers the animal control officer’s $40,000 salary.
Mr. Gordon said he wouldn’t speak on whether he was interested in a regionalized shelter — “I can’t comment on that. I haven’t given it a lot of thought.” Although he acknowledged the economies of scale realized through shared services.
“I believe that at one time (the Warren animal shelter) was a shared facility with the Town of Barrington. I don’t recall why that relationship dissolved,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bristol plans to construct a new shelter to replace its current, troubled facility where roof leaks lead to electrical shorts and a settling foundation jams up doors, leaving them unable to open or close.
“This building is not going to last, that’s my concern,” said Bristol Animal Control Officer Dyanne Gibree during a recent interview. “There’s black soot all around the vents. I don’t know if we should be running our furnace.”
Voters approved a $2 million bond to build a new facility, but received bad news last week as all bids for the project exceeded the budget.
“The gorilla in the room is we’re over on site and we’re over on building. Let’s talk about where we’re going moving forward,” said John Lannan, the vice chairman for the animal shelter capital project committee. “How do we bring this across the finish line?”
Officials are now considering whether to pare down plans for the shelter; a meeting is set to discuss the project with its architect.”
Back in Barrington
Mr. DeAngelis sat in his office last week listening to a description of the Bristol’s situation and mulling over his own town’s dilemma.
“Some people say you must have a shelter,” he said. “But what’s it going to cost to have a shelter? We have a cat problem … every community has that problem.
“I think these three communities need to spend more time in the same room. We should do that more.”
Mr. DeAngelis said that Barrington been efficient in its current set-up. He also said that a regional approach to sheltering stray cats and dogs might not need to stop with Barrington, Warren and Bristol. He thought East Providence might also make a good partner.
Cats and dogs
• Barrington: No animal shelter; cats board at Warren Animal Hospital while dogs at a shelter in East Providence.
• Warren: Runs its own shelter; its condition is “acceptable” said the town manager.
• Bristol: Current shelter is in poor condition, according to the Bristol animal control officer. Bids for a new shelter exceeded the bond amount.
• East Providence: Operates its own animal shelters; boards Barrington’s stray dogs.