By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
LYNDHURST – In the fall, the City of Waynesboro issued a request for proposals to find a private entity interested in fully or partially operating the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center.
âWe haven’t completed the tendering process,â said Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp.
Hamp said the city is in the process of evaluating the proposals and hopes to conclude that process this week. In about two weeks, the city hopes to make a decision on who will take over the operation of the shelter, which serves as the municipal animal shelter for the towns of Waynesboro and Staunton and Augusta County, but is located in Lyndhurst.
The city’s plan was to make a decision before the end of January 2022. The city serves as the physical location of the shelter, but the three municipalities aim to provide the shelter with “lasting and stable leadership.”
According to Hamp, the goals also include improving the level of compliance and maintaining customer service. In five years, the refuge has had four different managers. Hiring a fifth manager in the fall would have meant five managers in as many years. Hamp said the shelter has maintained a level of success, including a 90% save rate, “but not consistent and lasting political success.”
While the plight of the animals is of primary concern to the community, Hamp said the town has other goals for the shelter as well. And, perhaps, a private provider would offer a better management option for the purposes of the refuge.
âAnd, it may not be, but at least we’re exploring that as an option,â Hamp said.
The shelter, which opened over a decade ago, has also struggled to maintain a full staff at the kennel in recent years. Keeping a shelter manager and staff is important to the overall success of the shelter.
Hamp said he understood public comments in the fall at Waynesboro City Council, Staunton City Council and Augusta County Board of Supervisors meetings included concerns about the outsourcing of property. shelter and, where applicable, maintaining a 90% savings rate and community partnerships for the shelter.
âThe owners would agree with these results, I think,â he said.
Hamp said the town and community have more in common with what each wants to preserve with the shelter than they have in common, including maintaining proper medical care for the animals.
However, in early 2022, municipalities and the United States face a different job market, and the purpose of the RFP, according to Hamp, is to address the staffing of the shelter. The goal of PD is not to save money. The city is not looking to cut costs by outsourcing the ownership of the shelter.
âCost is not a yardstick,â Hamp said.
In each entity’s proposal, it must include a management plan for the refuge. Either the private entity would provide employees, or the entity would only manage the shelter and provide veterinary services, while the city would provide other positions.
Hamp said he wanted to express his gratitude to the current shelter staff for continuing to fill their positions as the shelter is short-staffed and without a shelter manager.
After more than a decade of operation, the shelter’s success has been built on its partnerships with local organizations, including Cat’s Cradle and Augusta Dog Adoptions and other âwho really care about animalsâ groups.