Shoreline towns hope to share an animal shelter

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NEW LONDON & WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — When winter arrives, the animal shelter in Waterford has often shut down. A frozen pipe and no heat have been the main problems.

But many had hoped that would come to an end with a new facility. Money was raised by residents and animal advocates to build one, but that was put on hold as a regional animal shelter was explored.

Now, the towns of Waterford, East Lyme, and Montville and the City of New London have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue the establishment of a Regional Animal Control Facility.

The new facility would be an expansion of New London’s existing facility at Bates Woods Park. That shelter was partially rebuilt after being damaged by a fallen tree during Superstorm Sandy.

The city and towns say the purpose of a regional facility is to reduce operating costs and enhance services for all partnering municipalities. The newly adopted memorandum is the first step in developing an inter-local agreement that will govern the future operations and cost-sharing program for the new facility.Related Content: Hearing-impaired dog makes history by joining K-9 unit after being deemed unadoptable

“We haven’t calculated the cost in dollars, but we’re thinking is that it’s going to be much more efficient, that we will be able to provide a better service,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

Rescue dog owner Jan Grosskopf of Niantic has some concerns.

“When you conglomerate, sometimes there become questions about policies and procedures or staffing,” said Grosskopf.

“Regionalization is not the easiest solution, it’s the right solution,” said Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward.

“What we’ll be doing is simply adding more kennels in the existing kennel run to be able to accomodate more animals,” explained Mayor Passero.

The other towns would be responsible for that. Waterford brings with it $200,000 raised to build a new animal shelter to replace its current one which is closed because of a frozen water pipe and no heat. Waterford animals are being kept in New London now.

“That money has to be primarily spent on building a new shelter,” said Steward.Related Content: Overpopulation forces rescue dogs from Texas to Connecticut

And this one is literally a stone’s throw away from the Waterford town line. The towns had also looked at opening a shared facility at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Facility in Montville. That plan was met with some opposition.

Grosskopf hopes a shared shelter could help get pets adopted.

“They might be able to get the word out and then people have a central location to go and that could be a good thing,” said Grosskopf.

Sharing a shelter may be just the beginning. Both New London and Waterford are also in talks about possibly sharing a dispatch center as well.

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