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Superior Councilors Vote to Move Forward with New Shelter

Updated: 03/18/2014 10:42 PM
Created: 03/18/2014 9:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

The Superior City Council chambers were jam-packed Tuesday, full of anxious residents waiting to hear what's to become of their city's stray cats and dogs.

It didn't quite go as planned.

On the agenda, Mayor Bruce Hagen was expected to introduce his resolution that would ask the council for permission to pursue contract negotiations with the City of Duluth for animal care services. The resolution had circulated the community the week prior, causing an uproar on social media.

Instead, the mayor amended his resolution, asking the council permission to enter negotiations with the Humane Society of Douglas County. The Humane Society would temporarily run the city's animal shelter starting May 1, until a new city shelter could be built.

With one councilor absent, the council unanimously approved the resolution.

In January, Animal Allies gave the city a 90-day notice that they would be terminating their management of the city's shelter. It was a sound business decision on their part, said the mayor, but it sent the city into an animal shelter "crisis."

Animal Allies contract is up April 30. With the resolution passed, the humane society would care for the city's strays in the city's shelter on an interim basis.

But going into Tuesday's council meeting, concerned citizens were expecting something much different. A rally before the meeting, had people asking councilors to vote against Hagen's resolution to send their strays to the Duluth shelter.

"I want to support getting a shelter in Superior so we don't have to go all the way to Duluth," said 14-year-old Olivia Anderson-Petroske.

"We don't want our animals going to Duluth, we want to keep them here," said Holly McLean, a volunteer at the Superior shelter. 

Some people had their own ideas, such as combining the Animal Rescue Federation (ARF) in Superior with the humane society.

"If we could combine those two and keep it in Wisconsin, keep it in Douglas County, then those animals would have a place to go," said Anne Laible of Superior.

During the meeting, however, the mayor surprised much of the room with his amended resolution. Hagen said rumors surrounding the shelter have been running wild.

Hagen told Eyewitness News Friday that a partnership with Duluth would have been a good business decision, saving money, but that didn't seem to be what the people wanted.

"I'm capitulating to the power of the passion and the anger of the people to not make a good business decision," said Hagen.

The people's voice was very evident in the packed council meeting.

"I am pleased this decision is being made," said Pat McKone, of Superior, during the meeting. "I was horrified to think that we would have outsourced our animals to Duluth."

Under the mayor's proposal, the city will negotiate with the Humane Society of Douglas County in the next few weeks and authorize a contract for a new animal shelter design bid in three months.

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