ARF volunteer with cat photo

ARF volunteers spay and neuter cats at an October clinic at Tolo Veterinary Clinic in Grangeville.

GRANGEVILLE — Plans change, and city property proposed more than five years ago for donation to a regional animal shelter project is now not an option. The Grangeville City Council consensus remains in support of Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) efforts to address problems with stray and feral cats and dogs, and left the door open for availability of other city property, though not for several years.

“If the council still is in approval of donating property to ARF, we still have property to donate,” said Mayor Wes Lester. This could come from an estimated 97 acres, located adjacent to the Idaho County Airport, donated to the city from the Mildenberger family. However, Lester advised the city has no plans for the property at present, of which are largely on hold as the municipality considers its needs for future wastewater treatment expansion. Questioned by an ARF volunteer on timing for a decision, Lester said, “We’re about five years out.”

ARF board members and volunteers, along with a representative with supporting organization, Animal Ark, visited with the council at its Monday, Nov. 15, meeting, providing an update on its activities, as well as to reaffirm the city’s support.

“We all volunteer for ARF because we have a passion for animals,” said Karin Vetter, ARF president. “We strive to make it easier for people to do the right thing in caring for and helping animals.”

ARF formed in 2014 with its goal to build a regional animal shelter to serve Idaho County and the surrounding area. A year later, the city approved a letter of intent to donate an approximate half-acre, with an option to lease another half acre, adjacent to the wastewater facility on Airport Road. This changed in 2018 as the city was planning for wastewater facility expansion to address further federal regulation, noting while the site was still a possibility, it recommended another location — possibly also on municipal land — better for construction and shelter operations.

Vetter explained to the council ARF was advised its shelter project would be helped through the organization demonstrating its efforts to assist animals in need. To that end, it has implemented several programs that since February 2020 have helped more than 1,400 animals. Funded by grants, fund-raisers and donations, these include the TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, release) clinics for stray and feral cats; animal transfer to Spokane for adoption; spay and neuter vouchers; foster adoption; and pet food donations.

On what issue this addresses, Alaina Redenbo, ARF treasurer, explained how the cat population can quickly grow.

“Kittens can get pregnant as early as 4 months,” she said. “They average three litters per year and four kittens per litter, so one cat can have 180 kittens in a lifetime.”

“With these programs,” Vetter said, “we’re making it easier for people to do the right thing for animals.”

Both Vetter and Redenbo said ARF looks to establish a location to place a small shed, centrally located to work and adopt animals from, a place to take phone inquiries and store supplies.

Coordinating partner, Animal Ark, is in “full support of ARF’s efforts,” said volunteer Mary Ann Davidson, whose organization she estimated spends an average of $70,000 a year on animals, including spay and neuter work and helping pay for emergency medical care.

“If not, those animals would probably be abandoned,” Davidson said, “which puts a greater burden on finding them homes.... The main point is, we need a shelter.”

ARF is looking to move to the next level, Redenbo said, “by establishing a stake in the ground with a building, even a small one, to manage these programs and continue to benefit our city and the county.”

Council consensus was to continue supporting ARF’s efforts, with Grangeville Police Chief Joe Newman also acknowledging Davidson’s compliments with the city and GPD’s continued support of Animal Ark’s efforts. With that, councilor Beryl Grant asked what work has been done at the county level.

“This is part of that group effort,” Grant said, not just for Grangeville but for every city in the region and the county, which also have animal problems. Redenbo said the group has met with Idaho County Sheriff Doug Ulmer and chief deputy Brian Hewson, and there has been the intention to have a joint meeting with the city and county on the matter.

Locating ARF in one of two former veterinary clinics in the area was discussed, but these have not worked out, and Davidson also noted in one instance it would be more cost effective to build a new facility than remodel an existing one to suit purpose.

On the city’s present land situation, public works director Bob Mager said no available municipal property was set up for utilities, as well as driveway access, for a shed that ARF is proposing. He suggested ARF contact the county on a possibility at the airport where the former Civil Air Patrol building was located.

“If you can make a sales pitch to them, that might be an opportunity,” he said.

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