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MISSION VIEJO : City OKs $979,000 for Animal Shelter

March 25, 1993|FRANK MESSINA

The City Council this week took the final step toward building an anti-euthanasia animal shelter by awarding a $979,000 construction contract.

For nine months, dozens of volunteers have worked for the city animal control program out of a temporary shelter in Irvine.

"This means that we'll finally have a permanent home" for abandoned pets, said Stuart Halbert, vice president of the Friends of Mission Viejo Animals, a nonprofit group that has more than 200 volunteers. "Having the shelter in Mission Viejo will do a lot of good for the program."

Last year, the city paid $1 million for 39 acres near Marguerite and Avery parkways, where the shelter is to be located.

The motion to award the construction contract to Martin J. Jaska Inc. was introduced Monday night by Councilwoman Sharon Cody, who spearheaded the city's takeover of animal control services from the county last July and started the Friends of Mission Viejo Animals group.

"You have been a shining example in this community," Cody told approximately 50 shelter volunteers at the council meeting. "I'm excited by what we've got."

The city maintains an anti-euthanasia policy toward unclaimed pets. After 30 days, the cost of housing an unclaimed stray is picked up by the Friends of Mission Viejo Animals.

The lone vote against the contract was cast by Councilman William C. Craycraft, who said he appreciated the efforts of the volunteer group but was opposed to spending the money.

Gary Manley, a former City Council candidate, said that he is also uncomfortable with spending nearly $2 million for the shelter.

"Lots of people in this community want projects" funded, he said. "I've always expressed a fear where we're headed economically."

Halbert said $1 million bought 39 acres of land, "which is a real bargain. Beyond that, this shelter will provide the community with good service--a service that people around here really want and need."

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