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Animal House Fund - in current form - to shut down

Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim with Mayor Francis Slay at the opening of Stray Rescue's new facility on July 19, 2010
Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio
Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim with Mayor Francis Slay at the opening of Stray Rescue's new facility on July 19, 2010

Like Quentin the miracle dog, the city's Animal House Fund may have a second life.

The city's health commissioner, Melba Moore, recommended to the Board of Aldermen's Health and Human Services committee on Wednesday that the check-off box  that's generated about $247,000 for the fund be removed from the property tax and water bills.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains:

The tax-bill donation solicitation was started by former Board of Aldermen President Jim Shrewsbury in 2002 and, dubbed the "Animal House Fund." It was meant to raise money to build a city animal shelter, and replace the old run-down pound on Gasconade Street. But, despite more than nine years of donations, the city never gathered enough to build it. Then, this summer, Mayor Francis Slay ordered the pound closed, and the health department shifted the majority of animal collection and care duties to two local nonprofits, the dog-focused Stray Rescue and the cat-centered Animal House. But no one took the donation box off of city tax bills.

According to Moore, it would be improper to keep the boxes on the bills because language in the ordinance creating the Animal House Fund specifically directs the donations to the new shelter, which isn't getting built.

But she doesn't object to aldermen changing the language to allow the donations to go to the two non-profits - Stray Rescue and Animal House, partnering with Metro Animal Rescue Services - that are currently sheltering the strays the city picks up.

"I don’t think it’s in our purview to change it. If the Health and Human Services takes that on and decides to do that, that’s a good job," she said.

Mayor Francis Slay doesn't object either, but he thinks the fund needs to be removed and reinstated to avoid confusion, a spokeswoman says.

That's good news for Ald. Dionne Flowers, who said she donates to the Animal House Fund every year.

"Without any city funding, if these non-for-profits go under, then what is the city doing to make sure that the strays are being picked up at least," she says, but says she wants to leave the check-offs on the tax bills to keep money flowing into the fund.

Legislation to change the ordinance will be introduced Friday.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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