Meridian Valley Humane Society President Connie Petersen tells City Council Tuesday the MVHS Board supports a merge with the Idaho Humane Society.

MERIDIAN — At tonight's City Council meeting, both the Meridian Police Department, which runs animal control, and the Meridian Valley Humane Society supported contracting with the Idaho Humane Society for animal control and sheltering services.

The Meridian shelter would close by Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year.

The need for a new shelter has come up often in the last seven years, but plans for a new facility were thwarted by the recession, Meridian Police Lt. John Overton said.

Now change is imminent: The neighboring wastewater treatment plant's long-expected expansion will wipe out one of the shelter's buildings this year.

Funding a new facility could run in the millions of dollars, but contracting with IHS would only bump the shelter's budget from $206,000 to an estimated $357,000, Overton said.

The volunteers have been amazing, he said, but with the Idaho Humane Society's resources and specialties — such as a large staff, cat sheltering, longer hours and emergency services — a merge makes more sense. Meridian, he noted, has the only Ada County shelter that doesn't contract with IHS.

The Meridian Valley Humane Society Board also favors the merge, Board President Connie Petersen said.

“While it saddens me deeply to see Meridian Valley Humane Society have to change and evolve from our current small group that offers intimate care and loves each animal, I feel it's absolutely necessary,” she said.

The other option would be for the city to fund a new shelter with more staff members, Petersen said. Shelter volunteer Susan Holladay asked Councilmen to consider leasing a warehouse — something she said would cost between $2,500 and $5,000 a month.

“I hate to see our animal control put 15 miles from my house,” she said. “... A city should provide animal control, particularly a city of our size.”

IHS has proposed a new location at Maple Grove and Overland roads in Boise, Overton said.

The Council made no decision at tonight's meeting but considered the arguments.

“It's kind of attractive to me to use the efficiency of a regional agency,” Councilman David Zaremba said. But even if a contract is formed this year, he said, echoing Holladay's statement, the discussion over Meridian's animal control and sheltering needs will likely continue in the future.

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