By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — A committee has been formed to make recommendations to aid the city’s unprofitable animal shelter.
A financial analysis by Finance Director Kim Kleinow recently found that the shelter, 16850 Southfield behind City Hall, has been losing an undisclosed amount of money over the last year.
“We need to restructure it and take a look, because we’re not profitable and we need to be,” Mayor Gary Burtka said.
The committee comprises City Administrator Eric Waidelich, Police Chief Dean Tamsen, Councilwoman Beverly Kelley and Kleinow.
“They’re going to take a look at it and see if we can turn this around,” Burtka said. “We need to make sure this doesn’t get buried somewhere, so we can turn it around and make it more profitable.”
In December the council passed a resolution proposed by Councilman Kyle Tertzag to work toward not euthanizing at the shelter. Officially setting that goal will make the shelter eligible for certain grants and enable it to begin the process of becoming a foundation.
The shelter currently has a high euthanasia rate, which hinders it from receiving several grants, including a $1,000,000 grant available only to “no kill” shelters.
In 2008 it took in 636 dogs and euthanized 182; it also received 765 cats and euthanized 447.
Even with the possibility of grants and not killing healthy animals, news of the shelter’s money losses are causing some skepticism over the proposed status change.
“You voted 7-0 to have it a no kill zone,” said resident Malcolm Beaton. “That sounds good. That’s right up there with mom, apple pie and the American flag, but let’s come down to reality.
“Those animals are caged individually, and there isn’t a whole lot of room back there. Sometimes we can’t afford to be as nice as we want to be. You can’t keep those animals forever.”
Waidelich said the committee may find that the “no kill” idea cannot work financially.
“On the reverse though, we may find a way in which we can still provide a service to the community,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a break-even. Only time will tell.”
The committee is expected to report to the council within 30 days on what will be most profitable for the shelter.
“I’m not sure what the future holds,” Waidelich said, but I can promise you like everything else that this administration has done, the decision will be based on what is the best interest for the city.”
Even with the future of a noneuthanizing shelter in question, Tertzag defended the idea.
“I still believe that the no kill goal is a good goal,” he said. “We will be able to go after … over a million dollars in revenues.
“The contracts with the other communities that we service as part of our operation may need adjustment. According to their usage of the shelter, perhaps.”
Garden City, Melvindale and Lincoln Park all send stray animals to the shelter.
To contact the Allen Park Animal Shelter call (313) 382-6173.