Future of local dog shelter in question after zoning violations

Canine Rescue Coalition moved to its current location on Second Avenue in October 2016, but has drawn criticism from neighbors. (Courtesy of Darlene Spencer/ Canine Rescue Coalition)

A dog shelter violating city zoning code in the Roosevelt neighborhood has drawn criticism from neighborhood residents.

The dog “hub,” as described by Darlene Spencer, president of the Canine Rescue Coalition moved to the site of 609 N. Second Avenue in late October 2016 after they left their boarding facility at 24th and Washington streets.

Native American Connections owns the site and plans to build an affordable housing development with construction set to begin in January or February of 2018, according to Joe Keeper, Native American Connections Director of Real Estate Development. Neighbors do seem open to the potential for the site to become an affordable housing development in the near future.

Keeper said Native American Connections reached an agreement for the site to be the temporary home of the Canine Rescue Coalition after the previous tenant of the building, the Marc Community Resources social service agency, moved out.

“After the Marc Center moved out we didn’t want to have the building sit empty or vacant downtown with concerns for vandalism and looters and stuff like that so it was a good win-win we felt,” Keeper said.

The Canine Rescue Coalition moving in offered a solution.

“They were looking for a space where they could run their program out of while they were saving up money to purchase a new facility themselves,” Keeper said

Spencer said the facility, the only one Canine Rescue Coalition operates in the state, holds adoption days on Saturdays and schedules prospective dog owners by appointment only. The dogs housed at the site are giant breeds with troubled pasts.

“Sometimes we’ll get in dogs that you can’t even touch,” Spencer said. “Or that have been so highly abused that they’re not appropriate for a foster home.”

Spencer said volunteers work with the dogs 24/7, and it takes one to two weeks to get the more troubled dogs ready to go to a foster home. Sometimes foster homes will take the dogs to the shelter so volunteers there can in turn take them to see a veterinarian and then return the dogs back to the foster home.

Spencer said the services the facility provides range from rehabilitation and re-training to vet care for the dogs and sometimes the providing of service dogs to clients.

The city of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department (NSD) served the site a notice of ordinance violation two weeks ago informing the coalition they did not have the proper permit to operate a dog shelter there, according to Tamra Ingersoll, public information officer for NSD.

Spencer did not have the proper forms notarized at the zoning hearing last Thursday. The Zoning Commission gave the facility a stay until the next zoning hearing on May 18. Spencer and the other operators of the shelter were advised to engage with community members in the meantime.

The Lofts at Fillmore, located nearby at 387 N. Second Avenue filed a complaint with the city which listed grievances the board there had with the facility. The Roosevelt Action Association, which voiced approval for Native American Connections’ proposed project yesterday night, supported the complaint.

At the zoning hearing, Spencer said the facility had circulated petitions in the neighborhood asking for signatures of support or to call the facility with concerns they may have. Ed Reeder, secretary of the board of directors for the Lofts at Fillmore, said the Lofts were not notified of the petitions and that the dog facility had not reached out to the Lofts since the zoning hearing

Reeder said some of the complaints included lack of running room for the dogs, and the boarding up of the building’s windows, which Reeder said does not reflect well on the neighborhood. Reeder added that volunteers clean the courtyard area where the dogs do have room to run into the streets, where students walk.

“It’s not about the dog shelter itself, it’s the way it’s being operated,” Reeder said

Contact the reporter at dmperle@asu.edu.