GARY | City officials on Monday announced plans to lease a second facility for the city's troubled animal control division.
The plan includes using a second facility at 6800 E. Seventh Ave., in Gary's Miller neighborhood, for at least a year, said Chelsea Whittington, spokeswoman for the city.
Animal control could start using the Miller building as soon as the end of this week. The building will be used as a quarantine area and to temporarily house animals.
In June, Save a Dog Rescue based in Syracuse, Ind., started an online petition calling for the Gary Animal Control to shut down. The petition had 739 online signatures as of Monday.
The Seventh Avenue building belongs to the Northwest Indiana Humane Society, which is negotiating the lease agreement with Gary police, according to the release. Under the current negotiations, Gary police would pay $500 a month for rent and will pay utilities.
The city also will begin looking into repairs to its current facility at 625 W. Ninth Ave., according to the release. Officials expect changes at that facility to be completed by Sept. 30.
The costs for the repairs will dip into the Gary police budget. The city plans to take donations and raise funds to increase the budget for animal control.
Whittington said the Animal Rescue Corp. is schedule to begin an assessment next week into the department's staffing, training and animal handling.
Char Swift, director of Save a Dog Rescue, said the group plans to keep the petition online but called the plan a step in the right direction.
"There are a lot of promises going around," she said. "We'll see how the assessment goes."
One of the changes the group wants is a more defined policy on euthanizing animals.
Whittington said animal control receives four to eight animals every day. In 2012, there were 1,092 dogs impounded, 423 cats impounded and 366 pets turned over to animal control care. Of those animals, 680 were rescued.