Island selectmen focus on animal shelter solutions
An Island shelter under county auspices draws support
With a May 1 closing date looming for Martha's Vineyard's only animal shelter, Carter Luke, president of the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), and Kate Vanderhoop, shelter task force coordinator, called for action at an All-Island Selectmen's (AISM) meeting Monday night.
Selectmen from all six Island towns, as well as Lenny Jason, chairman of the Dukes County Commissioners, county manager Russell Smith, and several members of a shelter task force attended the meeting at the Chilmark Community Center.
Photos by Ralph Stewart
The option of running a shelter under the auspices of Dukes County with the Martha's Vineyard community's support garnered the most interest.
Mr. Jason, however, voiced some reservations. "I think we all agree something has to be done," he said. "The county has limited funds, so we would only get involved with the guarantee that the towns would support this new process."
As Mr. Jason pointedly reminded the selectmen, "You know, we've been involved in processes before, where everybody suddenly develops amnesia by the time you really start spending the money - we wouldn't want to do that again."
Although the AISM group is not a decision-making entity, the selectmen agreed to take up the matter at their individual board meetings, and then ask the Dukes County Commissioners for their support.
The Oak Bluffs selectmen took the lead at their meeting Tuesday night, voting to endorse the county-run shelter concept.
Shelter in transition
MSPCA officials announced on February 5 that they planned to close the Katharine M. Foote Memorial Animal Shelter in Edgartown, as well as animal care and adoption centers in Brockton and Springfield, due to economic difficulties.
A few weeks later, several Vineyard animal control officers (ACOs) spearheaded the formation of a shelter task force to explore alternatives.
Ms. Vanderhoop, the assistant Edgartown ACO, offered to act as the coordinator of the committee, which is made up of selectmen and town representatives, Mr. Smith, Dukes County Commissioner Melinda Loberg, ACOs, and veterinarian Charles Rogers Williams.
Mr. Luke met with the group on March 10 and offered the continued use of the shelter building for Martha's Vineyard's use in caring for homeless animals. He repeated that commitment to the selectmen Monday night.