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Lawton Animal Welfare taking over Fort Sill responsibilities

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - A shelter for stray animals on Fort Sill is now closed, but Lawton Animal Welfare has stepped in to help.

As of Thursday, February 9th, Lawton Animal Welfare is responsible for any calls about dogs or cats on post. That includes stray animal calls and emergencies, such as a dog bite. The agreement was discussed for about a year after the Army Veterinary Health Services cut funding to the Fort Sill shelter at the end of 2016.

In the immediate future, Lawton Animal Welfare will be hiring more staff to help with the added responsibilities. In the future, they are looking at increasing the capacity of their shelter.

Garrison Commander at Fort Sill Colonel Sam Curtis said the shelter at Fort Sill was in desperate need of renovations, and without funding from Army Veterinary Health Services, they decided it was best to close. To replace it, they looked to the shelter in Lawton which he said is much nicer and very well run.

"The city has really taken a large public interest in this, with volunteer effort, they've really been able to move their stray animal program at large forward quite a bit,” Curtis said.

The new agreement means all stray dogs and cats on Fort Sill will go to the Lawton Animal Shelter. It is a five-year agreement, with Fort Sill paying Lawton Animal Welfare $308,000 the first and 4th years of the agreement and $258,000 the second, third and fifth years of the agreement.

"There's nowhere that you can get this type of quality for that much money so I think up on Fort Sill, they're really happy with what they're getting as far as the quality of work goes and the quality of staff that were bringing to the table,” said Lawton Animal Welfare Superintendent Russell Anderson.

Anderson said that money will primarily be used to help increase the staffing at animal welfare, which is also good for those living in Lawton.

"I don't have just one officer sitting up on Fort Sill,” Anderson said. All my officers will be switching off, going back and forth to Fort Sill. But then if I'm not on a call at Fort Sill, the additional staff will be running calls downtown, so it helps Lawton and it helps Fort Sill both at the same time."

Colonel Curtis said with the change, at least as far as picking up your dog or cat from the shelter goes, Fort Sill residents will be treated just like those in Lawton, with one exception.

"If a resident of Elgin, their dog or cats gets out, they're not going to charge registration fees for Lawton for an Elgin resident. Similarly, they're not going to charge registration fees for Fort Sill residents,” Curtis said.

Fort Sill residents will, however, have to pay all other fees associated with recovering your animal from the shelter. Anderson said this deal is a long-time coming and he is excited about for what this deal could lead to, as it is a first-of-its-kind agreement between Lawton and Fort Sill.

"It actually opens a lot of doors for additional agreements to come forward,” Anderson said. “Not just animal related, but contracts that could be anything from trash pickup to running the lights up there, or several other options. As far as the city goes, I think it's very important. It’s a great first step."

Anderson said he thinks this agreement will ultimately be great for the shelter. He said it will allow them to have more trained staff and, ultimately, even increase their adoption rate as people living on Fort Sill will now come to the Lawton Animal Shelter instead of the shelter on post.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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