TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The fate of an animal shelter located in Huachuca City is still up in the air after an electrical fire forced the facility to close in December 2018.
For former volunteer Jere Fredenburgh, talking a walk along the grounds sparks fond memories.
“I learned how to walk a dog. I had never walked a dog before," Fredenburgh said.
She started volunteering at the Huachuca City Shelter in March 2018. The shelter had intergovernmental agreements with other municipalities who allowed the Sheriff’s Department to drop off animals found within the county as well.
"The county housed approximately 400 a year and the city had appropriately 100 animals,” she said.
Since the fire, it’s been vacant for nearly 14 months. However, Fredenburgh said she thinks the building can be brought back to life.
“The damage is not real noticeable,” she said. "It was an electrical panel that got wet so it sparked and created a small fire, but, no the shelter was not damaged.”
After the fire, Huachuca City asked to the county to consider helping them repair the building.
In a statement Cochise County officials said fixing the building was not in the best interest of taxpayer money.
“Following the fire at the Huachuca City Animal Shelter, the County determined the building could not to be repaired or remodeled to meet acceptable standards, and would have provided no cost benefits. After conducting a tour of the Sierra Vista animal shelter, it was clear they had the capacity to meet the required needs and that the facility is run extraordinarily well by the City of Sierra Vista, its staff, and volunteers. The County has made no decisions on whether to build a centralized animal shelter. We continue to work with our municipal partners in Sierra Vista, Douglas and Willcox to provide current services and we are exploring a number of options with regards to potential future solutions to the current animal shelter challenges. However, the final decision on if and how we proceed will be made by the Board of Supervisors. A work session will be held on March 24 to provide the Board with an update on this matter."
In the meantime, agreements have been made with other shelters, like the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center in Sierra Vista.
“Since then, we’ve taken in 41 animals from Huachuca City,” Arleen Garcia, animal control supervisor for the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center, said.
They’re only allowed to house city pets, but still have seen an increase of intakes.
"We did get pretty full last year. We spent most of last year kind of figuring it out making sure that we don’t have to euthanize for a lack of space. We haven’t had to do that since 2015,” Garcia said.
The rest of the animals in Cochise County go even further to Douglas and Wilcox, splitting up the 400 animals a year the Huachuca City shelter use to take care of.
“They have a lot of animals now because the county has not opened a shelter,” Fredenburgh said.
Thursday night, community members gathered at the Huachuca City Town Council meeting.
Supervisor Peggy Judd was there, however, she was not representing the Board of Supervisors. Instead, she attended to the meeting as the representative of District 3, which includes Huachuca City.
They're hoping to make their voices heard and to start a discussion in hopes that one day the animals will have a temporary home before finding their forever one.
“Ultimately I’d like to see them build another small county shelter that solely county animals that will sport the growth of Cochise county,” Fredenburgh said.
The Cochise County Board of Supervisors will make the final decision at their work session scheduled for March 24.