|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD On July 1 the city of Westfield will have nowhere to house their rescued animals. However, the members of a recently established organization called Animal Shelter Renovation Inc. are working to establish a regional no-kill animal shelter prior to the deadline.
For over three years the city has been under contract with the town of Southwick to house their rescued animals at the Southwick Animal Shelter, according to Southwick Police Chief Mark Krynicki. He explained that the partnership was only supposed to be a temporary solution. Krynicki said increased numbers of animals from Westfield at their shelter is one of the reasons for the decision not to renew the contract.
Krynicki said that approximately 75 percent of the animals at the shelter which can house 10 dogs and 14 cats, according to Tracy Root, animal control officer for the town of Southwick are ones from Westfield. Krynicki explained that the city of Westfield only pays for each animal to be housed at the shelter for 10 days but that most animals remain there for 30 to 40 days. He cited the Southwick taxpayers as the ones who pay for each animal's extended care.
Root said, however, that she has not housed any Westfield animals for several weeks.
When asked why he refuses to bring any animals to the shelter, Westfield Animal Control Officer, Kenneth Frazer, also president of Animal Shelter Renovation Inc., said the shelter does not guarantee that they will not euthanize the animals. However, Krynicki denied Frazer's claim and explained that animals are only euthanized under a veterinarian's recommendation due to the animal's failing health.
Frazer said he has found temporary placement for the animals until a more permanent facility can be obtained.
Kimberly Kirsch, co-owner and manager of Klassee K9 Kennel on Loomis Street, said she has been helping Frazer over the past several weeks by taking in the dogs at her kennel for free. Kirsch explained that she and her business partner Barbara Shaner, co-owner of the kennel, have proposed that the city acquire the site as its new animal shelter.
Kirsch said if the city is willing to purchase Klassee K9 Kennel it would be mutually beneficial and will also secure the safety and care of the animals, which are her primary priority. She explained that she will continue to run business as usual regardless of whether or not the city decides to purchase the site.
Ward 4 City Councilor Mary O'Connell said the proposal has been forwarded to the council's finance and community property and facilities committees for consideration. According to a letter and proposal sent to O'Connell, the cost of Klassee K9 Kennel is $985,000.
Regardless of the outcome of the proposed sale of Klassee K9 Kennel, members of Animal Shelter Renovation Inc. have set a goal to raise $400,000 in order to establish the regional no-kill animal shelter. According to Joanne Perry, treasurer for Animal Shelter Renovation Inc., the organization has raised $40,000 thus far through various fundraisers.
"We can't stand to see animals out there suffering," Perry said. "We want to speak for the animals that can't speak for themselves." She added that many of the rescued animals are abused or neglected and that compassion is her organization's biggest motivator.
She explained that Animal Shelter Renovation Inc. is also looking to educate the public about spaying and neutering pets in order to establish animal control.
Frazer said from June to December 2007 he rescued 89 dogs and approximately 200 cats. He added that the number of abandoned animals has increased in correlation to the nation's economic slump.
Perry said various fundraisers have been set up over the next few months in order to try and raise the remaining funds for the new animal shelter. On Feb. 24 from 2 5 p.m. a "Pro Wrestling" event will take place at the Westfield Royal Order of the Moose Lodge. Tickets are $12 each and are available at Westfield Home & Garden.
Kids Fair 2008, another fundraiser for the shelter, will take place on March 15 at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club. This fundraiser will allow children to participate in a variety of activities such as face painting, create-a-craft table, play in a bounce house, interact with clowns and other games.
The next fundraiser will be the Artists for Animals Art Auction on March 28 at the Tekoa Country Club on Russell Road. Tickets are $50 per person and $90 per couple. The evening will include a cocktail hour beginning at 6:30 p.m., auction at 7:30 p.m. and coffee, dessert and music beginning at 9:30 p.m. Ticket requests should be mailed to Julie Austin, Event Chairperson, 38 Cross St., Westfield, MA 01085.0ecks should be made payable to Animal Shelter Renovation Inc.
For more information about Animal Shelter Renovation Inc. go to their Web site at www.helphomelessanimals.com.
Donations toward the establishment of their no-kill regional animal shelter can be mailed to Animal Shelter Renovation Inc., c/o Berkshire Bank, 44 Little River Rd., Westfield, MA 01085.