(Photo courtesy of PAWR Animal Control / Jason Hamm)

PAWR awarded animal control service contract

After some considerable debate from council, Pet and Wildlife Rescue (PAWR) has been awarded a five-year contract to provide animal control and pound services across all of Chatham-Kent.

PAWR was the only submission for the municipality’s request for proposal seeking animal control, which was advertised towards the end of 2018. The organization priced its duties at $4.1 million.

The charitable organization, which was previously in charge of services in Chatham, North Kent, Wallaceburg and South Kent, was established in 2014. The contract for the companies that do animal control for the remainder of Chatham-Kent — Predator Animal Control and Glencoe Animal Shelter — will expire on March 31.

The motion passed 11-7 on Monday night, with many councillors expressing concerns with the five-year contract length.

“I just don’t think it merits a five-year [contract.] I like the three-year, plus the availability for extension,” said Councillor Mary Clare Latimer.

Councillor Carmen McGregor requested a motion go forward that would shorten the contract to two or three years. However, legally PAWR had bid on a contract of a certain length of time, and the request for proposal process would have to be restarted in order for the contract to be changed.

Latimer also said she was one of the multiple councillors who has been receiving emails from concerned residents the past few days in regards to the contract, and who wanted to know more information about PAWR.

“[They’re] unsure whether they’re a rescue unit, whether they’re a shelter, what their job is and how the two jobs are differentiated,” said Latimer.

She said she hopes councillors will be able to meet with residents who are dissatisfied with the decision and answer any questions they may have.

“That is education,” Latimer said. “I think meeting with them can only make that process better. Identifying the performance expectation and how the municipality is ensuring that they meet those performance expectations.”

Nancy Havens, the manager of licensing services with the municipality, assured councillors that the contract includes clauses that would make it possible for the municipality to get out of the contract if they feel that the organization is providing unsatisfactory service.

Myriam Armstrong, the operations manager for PAWR, told Blackburn News that the organization is thrilled with the decision and they look forward to continuing their work within the community. Last year, PAWR received a grant that allowed the organization to provide 250 free spay and neuters for local cats. Armstrong said they are already looking at ways they can continue these kinds of programs and start providing additional ones as well.

“We’re just going to continue the work we’ve been doing,” she said. “We’re looking forward to being able to apply it across the entire municipality.”