The Alaska Humane Society Adopt-A-Cat shelter faces a daunting ultimatum: Raise $60,000 before the end of the year for major upgrades or shut down. Shelter volunteers fear if they are forced to close, their 200 cats could be euthanized.
The shelter is up for its two-year license renewal and the city says the building needs a new ventilation system.
Pat Thomas, president of the Alaska Humane Society, says they found out about two months ago that, among other things, the not-for-profit shelter has to come up with $60,000-$70,000 for a heavy-duty ventilation system.
Thomas says that's about half their budget for the year, so they are looking for help from donations.
With 200 cats in one building, the smell is very strong, but volunteers say it has never been recorded at unhealthy levels.
Neighboring business owners say the smell can sometimes be unbearable. They've filed complaints with the city, and over the years neighbors say the shelter has cleaned up its act.
If Adopt-A-Cat can't come up with the money, Thomas says the cats will most likely be put down.
“It's unthinkable,” she said. “I thought about it once and then I thought it's not going to do any good to think about that. What we've got to do is (focus on) what we have now.”
Thomas says the city gave them multiple directives on what needed to be done before they could get their license renewed. Anchorage Animal Care and Control, which issues the licenses for shelters, wouldn’t comment on specifics saying it is an open case. But Adopt-A-Cat says in addition to the ventilation system they have to install a commercial dishwasher and reduce the number of cats they shelter.
“If when we go in and we're finding things that don't match with Title 17 - they're not in compliance with code that falls under us - then we would require them to come into compliance before we could issue a license or a renewal,” said Brooke Taylor with Anchorage Animal Care and Control.
The city says it has received three complaints about the shelter in the last three years. Two of them were related to smell. Both complaints have been cleared, the third is still an active case and the city can't comment.
The Humane Society says they have raised about $20,000 so far and have until the end of the year to get the rest.
They are fundraising any way they can, including through online donations. If you'd like to help you can visit their website at www.adopt-a-cat.org.