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Aldermen vote to free up money for Stray Rescue

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim carries a puppy to a transport van during a rescue in the summer of 2011.

A year-long battle over the best way to use about $258,000 in donated tax dollars that were originally intended for a new city-operated shelter is over.

The Health and Human Services Committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a resolution today that allows Stray Rescue to get reimbursed for completed work on the agency's Pine Street shelter. Officials there say they've already spent much more than that, especially since the city put Stray Rescue in charge of most animal control operations in the city.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster for the past year," said Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim. "It was to the point that I chose not to go to any more hearings and I totally blocked out the 250. So today surprised me."

Mayor Francis Slay started pushing for the change in February. The effort faltered in July when an resolution authorizing the reimbursement failed amid concerns that Stray Rescue was unable to handle the city's stray dog population.

Grim says he's happy that the debate triggered a broader conversation about the city's animal control strategy.

"Sometimes you have to go through crap to achieve something even higher, and I think the city did," he said.

The health department last month secured funding to open a new city-operated shelter on the north side. The department is also working on a a clear memorandum of understanding between the city and Stray Rescue.

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

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