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Lease negotiation a good move forward

May 15, 2015
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Gulf Coast Humane Society's plans to build a shelter in Cape Coral moved a big step forward this week when City Council authorized staff to begin negotiations with the non-profit for lease of city land on which to build its facility.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick, who made the motion to negotiate the site lease for land near the Austen Youth Center north of Lake Kennedy, summed up the issue succinctly and well:

"This is long overdue," she said at Monday night's meeting. "There is a real need for it."


The Cape lacks a shelter of any type and the fact that the Humane Society administers a no-kill program would benefit both man and beast - in this case up to 60 dogs and 30 cats at any one time that might, instead, face euthanasia at the often over-crowded county-operated facility in Fort Myers.

This is the point at which we typically urge careful vetting before entering into any private-public partnership, particularly those that involve the city contributing assets such as land or money.

In this case, however, the city is dealing with an entity with a long and proven track record and there is no cash on the table:

The Gulf Coast Humane Society has been serving Lee County since 1947.

It says in its 67 years it has saved "tens of thousands" of animals, arranging for the "adoption" of more than 1,500 dogs and cats each year.

All of its "shelter pets" come in as voluntary surrenders or transfers from other agencies and its touted "turnover rate" from intake to home placement is admirable: An average of just under 17 days for cats, just over 18 days for dogs.

In addition, the GCHS operates a low-cost veterinary clinic, open to the public, providing an array of services for pets - spay and neuter procedures, wellness exams, vaccinations, dental and more.

In its presentation to the city, the agency said it provided 2,455 spay and neuter procedures last year and it uses any "extra" money from its clinic services for shelter operations.

It proposes to build an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot facility with "roam rooms" for the cats, indoor/outdoor enclosures for the dogs and outside play areas for dogs and volunteers here in the Cape. Services are to include adoption opportunities, a low-cost on-site clinic, training programs for its "shelter pets," and educational and summer camp programs for local youths interested in learning about pet care or lending a hand.

There is no public money involved.

"Our shelter does not receive any federal, state or county funding and no funding from the Humane Society of the United States or ASPCA," the agency's presentation to the city states.

"GCHS relies solely on individual and corporate donations, grants, bequests and special events to fund our mission of rescue, compassionate care, and adoptions for more than 1500 animals each year."

It is raising the money for the planned Cape Coral shelter through fundraisers and our community has already stepped up.

The effort began last year with the project's first fundraising event, held at the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery.

The distillery, through JoAnn and Bob Elardo, donated $100,000 plus lots of its signature product to a related auction. Lee and Stuart Meyers of Fort Myers donated $50,000 with total donations topping $200,000 at the kickoff event.

Fundraisers so far this year include a Wicked Dolphin Prohibition-Speakeasy party, a poker run, a poker tournament and monthly "yappy hours" at Cape Harbour.

Meanwhile, LAI Design Associates LLC has donated its architectural services in the design of the new facility and will be provide general contracting services at cost.

We are confident city staff and the society can come to terms.

If so, count us among those who would like to see this project come to fruition.

For those who wish to be involved, donations (checks) may be mailed to the Gulf Coast Humane Society at 2010 Arcadia St., Fort Myers, 33916, or visit online at . If you wish to host a fundraiser, email

- Breeze editorial



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