WALLINGFORD, Connecticut (WTNH) – It’s the summer heatwave and tensions are boiling in Wallingford where the municipal animal shelter has no air conditioning.
Animal rights activists say the city has more than $ 700,000 in its Dog Pound trust fund for upgrades and repairs, but has yet to install air conditioning units.
The mayor says this is the first time the issue has been raised with him and insists it will take time to make the proper reviews and recommendations to install the new system.
“We bring them ice, put ice in their water,” said shelter volunteer Alex as he arrived to care for the seven dogs and 12 cats inside the building on Monday.
“How bad is it in there?” Asked Democratic adviser Vincent Testa. “It’s hot,” said Alex and fellow volunteer Judy, “[The animals] are stressed because they are in that environment, to start with – miss their family, whatever the reason for being dropped off – and then to be so hot.
Those concerns are now at the center of a dogfight between animal rights activists, the Republican mayor and the city’s Democrats.
It boils down to this: the refuge only has air conditioning in the front office, for the staff. When this broke, the fate of the animals was also revealed. Townspeople realized that the kennels did not have air conditioning and could be stuffy on a hot day.
On Monday noon it was about 90 degrees in Wallingford. News 8 Meteorologist Ashley Baylor used a laser thermometer to estimate the heat index inside one of the rooms where the shelter’s cats were kept. She calculated a felt temperature of 98 degrees.
Lawyers say the kennels towards the back of the building have even less ventilation. Although the state does not require air conditioning in animal shelters, City Councilor Testa says there is no reason the money set aside for the shelter should not be used to install it.
“We have laws about keeping dogs in cars. We know how hot it can be, “Testa said,” There is no excuse for allowing these conditions to exist. “
Democratic mayoral candidate Riley O’Connell also spoke.
“It’s an easy fix. The money is there, ”O’Connell said.
“Is it a political issue or is it about animals?” News 8’s Sabina Kuriakose asked.
“It’s definitely about the animals,” said O’Connell, “The reason it’s getting political is that there is currently only one person who decides, who has the power to make sure that this change will happen, and that’s the mayor.
News 8 went to Mayor William Dickinson for answers. Dickinson says the issue wasn’t raised with him until last week’s city council meeting. He says he obviously doesn’t want dogs and cats to suffer, and that he never rejected the idea of installing AC.
Dickinson says he needs to hire a new Animal Control Officer (ACO) who can review any improvements.
“It’s been decades without a problem. Suddenly we say it is a terrible situation. I think we need to follow the proper review and recommendation procedures. “
Mayor Dickinson says the city is about to hire a new ACO chief.
Its opponents say the city cannot afford to wait.
“They spend 23 and a half hours in a kennel,” volunteer Alex said of the animals at the shelter. “You have to think about how you would feel if you were in this situation.”