GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced Wednesday the city hopes to partner with a nonprofit to potentially build or renovate a facility for Gary Animal Control to accommodate animals needing to be quarantined.
Responding to a petition on Change.org calling on the city to transfer its animals to Lake County Animal Control, Freeman-Wilson said Animal Rescue Corps, a nonprofit specializing in assessments of animal shelters, will study Gary's operation for a week in July.
The ARC team then will make a recommendation to a separate nonprofit, Bissell Pet Foundation, on how it can help Gary, Freeman-Wilson said in a statement released by the city. The foundation aids animal welfare operations in fundraising efforts, according to its website.
Freeman-Wilson said the city lacks the funding to build or renovate a facility because of budget constraints.
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“We are certainly aware of the concerns that have been expressed regarding the city's Animal Control facility, and the staff has been working with rescue groups and committed volunteers to improve the environment for the animals that occupy the building,” Freeman-Wilson said.
The Change.org petition had garnered more than 650 supporters as of Wednesday afternoon. The petition says allowing Gary Animal Control to continue to operate is “detrimental to the humane rights of the animals taken into their custody.”
It asks the city to contract with Lake County for animal control services.
However, Freeman-Wilson said such a relationship is not an option because the county can't handle the volume of animals Gary impounds on a daily basis.
Freeman-Wilson said the city will release a contingency plan on how it will deal with the housing situation of animals in Animal Control's care by July 1.
“Our first priority is to provide a safe and sanitary location for these animals to dwell until rescued,” Freeman-Wilson said.
“Ideally, we want to keep these vital services here in our community. A city of Gary's size and population deserves it.”