Council mulls larger animal shelter lease

City council is considering giving the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter more space for its guests, something the shelter says is needed to help fight overcrowding and disease outbreaks.

City council is considering giving the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter more space for its guests, something the shelter says is needed to help fight overcrowding and disease outbreaks.

The Humane Society Yukon is the non-profit that runs the shelter. President Hoby Irwin and vice-president Linda Priestley spoke at council on Monday night, explaining why the animals in the shelter need more space.

“The shelter was built in 1998. It’s the same size now as it was then … overcrowding is becoming a serious issue,” Irwin said.

This year, the shelter has had 97 cats and 236 dogs come through. Last year they had 71 cats and 129 dogs, Irwin said.

Linda Priestly explained that when a dog gets sick, like a puppy with parvo, they have to be kept in cramped quarantine cages separate from other dogs. Additional space would allow the sick animals somewhere to run around while still being kept apart from the healthy ones.

“When parvo breaks out, we have a really hard time containing it. With the overcrowding, the noise in there is horrendous,” and makes dogs more aggressive, places staff at risk and sometimes leads to dogfights, Priestly said.

What they need are isolation runs for sick dogs, a larger dog run for bigger dogs like huskies, and ideally a large communal area for foster parents to play with the animals, which increases their likelihood of finding good, permanent homes.

The land that the shelter wants to expand onto is next to the existing shelter in the Marwell Industrial Park.

“It’s basically just swampland,” Irwin explained. He said that the community had pulled together and helped truck in and level 120 loads of gravel to make the area more suitable to a fenced-in dog run.

The request to extend the humane society’s lease passed first and second reading on Monday, with third reading still to come.

Irwin apologized for not having historic numbers of animals in the shelter because the previous board couldn’t provide them. The lack of appropriate records and alleged failure to follow the Societies Act nearly led to the shelter’s downfall last year and the territory’s registrar of societies took the case to Yukon Supreme Court.

Former president Shelley Cuthbert is fighting claims against her in court. A judge’s decision on the case is scheduled for Friday.

A number of councillors commended Irwin and the society for pulling itself out of nearly $100,000 in debt and overcoming the legal challenges to keep the shelter running.

“I think it’s important to do exactly what we’re doing. The shelter was pretty much nixed, and they’ve come back and phoenixed,” said Mayor Dan Curtis after the vote.

Contact Jesse Winter at

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