Animals at Yukon’s animal shelter are not getting proper housing or care due to the building’s deteriorating condition.
Yukon Animal Control Shelter and Pets & People Humane Society share a building at 701 Inla St. The building was opened in 1998, but its “inhumane conditions for those animals,” City Manager Jim Crosby said during Tuesday’s Work Session before City Council’s meeting. The roof leaks which has caused rust, water running through electrical outlets and light fixtures, and the ceiling to cave in. Other problems include one of the areas where cats are kept isn’t air conditioned or heated, the floors are rusted and coming up, doors are scratched and rusted, siding on the outside of the building is rusted and coming undone, there are some exposed wires, storage has been placed in places where it cannot be by ordinance such as in front of the water heater or in the electrical room, and more. It also doesn’t have enough space for the amount of animals that are there.
“It’s just not something that is really fit for animals,” Crosby said. “When we talk about the storage of animals, we had a group come in from the [Central Oklahoma Humane Society] with a lot of complaints.
“Some people have been blamed for calling channel nine but I thought it was a pretty good, positive story, and it’s something that needs to be taken care of.”
Crosby said the humane society said the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals requires 19 square feet per cat which would mean one of the areas where cats are kept at Yukon’s shelter should only contain 15 cats, but houses about 50 in that area.
“It’s hard to get an accurate count because they’re lined up here and in cages stacked two or three high,” Crosby said as pointing to a photo during the session.
Crosby said the building is Yukon’s property and it’s the city’s responsibility to maintain the upkeep.
“To be real honest, it’s not a slap at Pets & People, it’s a slap at the city,” Crosby said. “The maintenance of this building is our problem. We’ve known for years that evidently the roofs been leaking and we’ve done nothing to repair it.”
After a “multitude of complaints” from citizens about the building itself, Crosby visited the shelter. He said he also had multiple people from an insurance standpoint, as well as an architect and Police Chief John Corn visit it to clarify how bad the problem is and how they need to go about fixing it.
“They said the best thing we can do at this point in time is tear the building down and start over,” Crosby said. “You might as well just tear it down and redo it, it’s cheaper to do it that way.”
He added that they recommended saving the slab to save an estimated 25 to 30 percent.
Pets & People’s hearts are in the right place, Crosby said. They are not at fault for the conditions and do the best they can with what they have.
“These people are doing an excellent job,” Crosby said. “The amount of animals they’re bringing in is a problem. They really just don’t have a place to adequately house all of these animals.
“You can’t just tear that building down and not have a place for the animals to go.”
Crosby said what city officials are looking at doing in the future is building an adjacent building to put all of the animals in after decreasing the number of animals currently there to allow for demolition of the current building so it can be rebuilt using the current slab.
“Over a period of time, nothing fast,” Crosby said. “We’ll limit the number of animals that can be in there and work with Pets & People. They’ve done a wonderful job, but you can see that we’ve outgrown this facility. It’s a major problem.”
He added that they will be discussing their options for plans further then will bring it to City Council to approve.
Edy Bauer, Pets & People board member and volunteer, said Thursday city officials, including Crosby and Corn, met with Pets & People Wednesday to discuss options.
“We’re looking forward to their plans and moving forward,” Bauer said. “I don’t think anything is official yet, but we’re working together to make it a better place.”
Two citizens came forward with concerns about the building. Lynn Alexander is a former employee of Pets & People and Kathy Gibbs is a former Yukon High School teacher and a Pets & People volunteer.
“The animals are suffering. They have no quality of life,” Gibbs said. “It’s a very emotional thing when you go in every week and see the way it is. It’s just hard.”
Gibbs has been volunteering for Pets & People for the last eight or nine years. She said two of her four dogs are from there and she supports what they do.
“I have no quarrel with Cindy (Pets & People President) or with any of the other people who work or volunteer there. They’re great,” Gibbs said. “The dogs are better off there than on the streets. It’s not the way they want it to be, but they do what they can.
“Yukon is working to rebuild the shelter. Changes are coming. It’s a bad thing now, but it’s going to get better.”
Gibbs will continue to volunteer at Pets & People with the regular dogs she walks and said she’s going to stay hopeful the city will improve the building.
“My end of this whole thing is just my dogs,” Gibbs added. “I’ve been doing this so long that I call them my dogs. I just want to help.”
Alexander said he stopped working for Pets & People in February. He admitted he’s not perfect and has been in trouble with drugs in the past, but he’s been sober for 13 years and said he is a good guy. He told of some of the problems he faced as an employee at Pets & People.
“I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble, but I’m not going to back off,” he said. “The situation is beyond bad there. It cannot go on the way it is. Somethings gotta be fixed.”
Alexander said he went on to open his own rescue after he left Pets & People, he opened his own rescue called Native Oklahoma Rescues. It is a small rescue that relies on donations and the help of volunteers.
“I worry about those animals,” Alexander said. “You can’t save them all, just one at a time.”
What you can do:
Pets & People places about 1,300 pets in loving homes every year, but they can’t do it alone, Bauer said.
Pets & People is always looking for volunteers, mentors for shy dogs, foster homes and adopters.
“They need more volunteers to help and keep helping,” Gibbs said. “Volunteers, donations, fostering, anything people can do to help the animals.”
To find out more about ways to help, visit www.petsandpeople.com.