Accusations of political gamesmanship are flying today after the introduction of a new St. Louis Board of Aldermen resolution giving about $255,000 to the non-profit animal rescue organization Stray Rescue.
For all intents and purposes, Stray Rescue has handled the city's animal control since July 2010, when Mayor Francis Slay ordered the closure of the city pound on Gasconade. The $255,000 comes from a special fund originally intended to pay for a new city animal shelter, which was never built. Since February, the Slay administration has pushed aldermen to turn that money over to Stray Rescue so it can finish its shelter.
A resolution authorizing that decision failed on a tie vote in July. The new document released today, in addition to releasing the funds, outlines a new animal control strategy for the city, including:
- Additional animal control officers to help remove loose and dangerous animals;
- A new city-owned or managed facility, likely on the north side;
- Allowing owners to surrender their pets if they can no longer take care of them; (The lack of owner-surrender at Stray Rescue is a common complaint)
- The creation of a lost dog registry.
Stephen Conway, who sponsored the old and new resolutions, says he addressed all the concerns brought up by aldermen in July.
"I have a number of aldermen that don't want to see any success in this area so they can continue to blame the administration," he said. (Board president Lewis Reed, who's been sharply critical of the current animal control strategy, is thought to be considering a challenge to Mayor Slay in 2013.)
But opponents like Ald. Dionne Flowers say it's Conway playing politics. She agrees with the goals, she says, but they're not enforceable unless they're in law - while the money can be turned over if the resolution is approved.
"I guess this is their way of trying to appease me and the other aldermen concerned by stating the things that they want to do, but clearly you cannot enact any of these things unless it's in the form of an ordinance," she said.
A hearing on the new proposal is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in room 208 of City Hall.