The first meeting of the Bridge City Animal Leadership Team and the Advisory Team was held on Feb 22. There were 20 members of the Leadership Team and five members of the Advisory Team.

Mayor Kirk Roccaforte also attended.

The meeting was an open discussion and an exchange of ideas.

Susan McAnelly asked about the possibility of the Bridge City shelter becoming a “No Kill” shelter. Animal Control Officer Stacey Snell explained that the facility is not large enough to become a No-Kill shelter.

“We just do not have the room to hold as many animals as would have to be held to change the focus of the shelter,” Snell said.

A question was raised about the stray cat situation in the city. Snell said the city doesn’t have an ordinance concerning cats and he has no authority to capture cats.”
Councilman Mike Reed said the city has received a bid to repair the existing shelter and has been approved by the City Manager. The contractor’s bid would allow the repairs to be done for the amount of money that the city has budgeted for the shelter for the current fiscal year. The repairs would be for a new roof on the shelter and new doors, windows, and restrooms.

Problems with contractors have been that some contractors have considered the job too small. Others have not wanted to do repair work and would only consider building a new shelter and not repairing the old shelter. There have also been contractors in the past that have agreed to bid and not followed through.

When asked if volunteer work could be done on fencing at the shelter, Roccaforte said, “Volunteer labor could be used and that volunteers would be covered by the city’s liability insurance.” He went on to say that “the work would need to be coordinated with the city so that they would know who was there working and when.”

City crews between jobs and available prisoners could also be utilized. There are some electrical installations that could be done by city crews and city personnel also could install the new air conditioning unit, he said.

Reed said, “The city has no fat in the budget.” Funding has been set for the fiscal year and that it will be next year before new funding for the shelter can be considered.
The Leadership Team is in the process of formally organizing and filing the necessary forms for the application of tax-exempt status. When this is done the group can then set up an account to receive donations. Anyone wanting to donate time or money in the meantime can contact Tracy Miguez, acting Chairperson of the Leadership Team at 988-8295 for information.

Veterinarian Dr. Al Pugh said “The care of the animals at the shelter has always been good but that the facility has always been in bad condition.”

In May 2007 the state did an inspection and gave the city one year to bring the shelter into code. The time is nearly up for compliance. Animals may have to be transferred to another city’s shelter if the city cannot bring the shelter into compliance.

Dr.Pugh also suggested one way the city could increase funding would be to revise the dog licensing program. Currently, the city charges $1 for a city dog tag. Pugh said, “It probably costs the city over one dollar to provide each tag. If the fee was raised it would provide funds that could go to the shelter.”

Dr. Pugh suggested that a cost-efficient way to operate a shelter would be on a countywide basis. The cities in the county could contribute to that shelter instead of having to operate several shelters as is now being done. The proposal could be made to the County Commissioners Court for possible action.

Roccaforte said, “The city is behind the idea of improving the shelter but we are limited to what we can do with the funds available. The city does not have extra money; unfortunately we have to look not at what we want, but what we can do without. The city has a budget of $12.5 million. To put things into perspective the police department of the City of Port Arthur has a budget of $36 million.”

Miguez and Roccaforte emphasized that any donations made to the shelter would be placed in an account earmarked for the shelter by the city. Donations would be made either to the City of Bridge City or to the Bridge City Animal Leadership Team.

The next meeting of the Leadership Texas will be at Novrosky’s on March 13 at 7 p.m.