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Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Tribe tells animal shelter to move out
By Emily Heffter
Little more than a year after finding a free space for its no-kill animal shelter, the beleaguered Animal Shelter of North County soon will be homeless again.
Allowing the shelter to move its portable buildings and fences to Stillaguamish tribal property north of Arlington was a good deed gone wrong, said the tribe's executive director, Eddie Goodridge Jr.
The shelter hasn't made an effort to find a permanent location, but more importantly, Goodridge said, complaints about barking dogs "are getting old."
On March 19, the Stillaguamish Tribe gave the shelter 90 days to move.
"We have nothing," shelter manager Jacqueline van Riper said.
The shelter, which has two full-time and two part-time employees, is the only no-kill shelter in North Snohomish County that takes both dogs and cats.
The shelter manager said there aren't that many complaints about the dogs, and shelter staff members do everything they can to keep the animals quiet. Stillaguamish Police Chief Felix Moran said that late last year the department received daily complaints about barking, but they have slowed considerably in the past few months.
"We haven't had any problems with the animal shelter," Moran said.
He said neighbors have harassed the dogs by firing off guns and firecrackers, and making high-pitched noises.
Audrey Putnam, who lives next door to the shelter, said the shelter is noisy "chaos."
"In the daytime, if you try to go outside to do anything in your yard, they're barking," she said. "Our quiet neighborhood disappeared when the shelter came."
The shelter has been hit with a string of problems since opening in June 2000 after Arlington's city-operated shelter closed. A six-member nonprofit group set up the North County shelter near Arlington Airport but lost that site in late 2002 in a dispute with the city.
With debts piling up, the shelter almost closed before the Stillaguamish Tribe called in January 2003 to offer a small portion of its 20-acre property north of Arlington.
The shelter board and the tribe had no written agreement, but van Riper said the tribe told board members they could stay as long as they wanted to, even after a casino opened on the property. But Goodridge said he promised only that the shelter could stay for a year or so.
The shelter doesn't have contracts with local governments the way other nonprofit shelters do. The shelter is about $20,000 in debt to the Internal Revenue Service after years of not paying payroll taxes, van Riper said, a problem she blamed on previous managers.
"It's been just one problem after another for this shelter," van Riper said.
When the shelter was in Arlington, it housed about 200 animals. Now it has 14 large dogs and 65 to 70 cats, van Riper said, and has stopped accepting animals. The shelter used to allow people to bring in pets or strays for free.
Van Riper said she was told the shelter had to move to make room for parking spaces outside the casino, which the tribe expects to start building this spring.
But Goodridge said that's not true. Mostly, he's just fed up with the shelter, he said.
"The complaints are just one of the things I'm tired of hearing about, frankly," he said.
Emily Heffter: 425-783-0624 or email@example.com
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