City Approves Funding for New Animal Shelter on North Side

City leaders are taking steps to curb St. Louis' stray dog problem.
City leaders are taking steps to curb St. Louis' stray dog problem.
The city's Estimates and Appropriations Committee unanimously approved yesterday a proposal to use $170,000 from last year's budget surplus to build a new animal shelter in north St. Louis.

The plan is to lease and renovate a vacant building on West Florrissant Avenue. Once the lease is signed, the city anticipates that it will take around 45 days to complete the necessary renovations to the property, which used to be an auto emissions center, according to Mayor Francis Slay's press secretary Kara Bowlin.

The move is most significant step city hall has taken to address the ongoing animal control problems that have plagued city leaders for some time, particularly since the mayor closed down the city's antiquated shelter on Gascondale Street last year and contracted Stray Rescue to take over animal control duties.

The stray dog and animal shelter controversy has become a political wedge between Slay and Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed, whom many expect to run for mayor in 2013. Reed has criticized Slay for ignoring a dangerous stray dog problem in north St. Louis. Slay has criticized Reed for politicizing the issue and driving away Stray Rescue by abstaining from a July vote that would have given the agency $250,000 to build a new facility. Earlier this month, Slay and Reed released dueling plans to address the city's animal control operations.

This funding approval, though, appears to be a step toward agreement. Both Slay and Reed are on the three-member Estimates and Appropriations Committee, which also features Comptroller Darlene Green.

The city expects to sign the lease for the property soon. Once that is done, it must construct fences and perform various other upgrades to meet Department of Agriculture regulations.