BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For decades, citizens, activists and local leaders have promised to improve the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, yet many of the problems have persisted from one administration to the next.
The shelter, located on Oak Street, is part of the City Department of Public Works, which also handles snow removal, sanitary services and street repairs, among other jobs. Critics say the department is ill-equipped to run a shelter.
While many of the employees are, hard-working and are great with the animals, the sources said others are simply 'placed' at the shelter from other public works divisions.
2 On Your Side talked off camera with more than a dozen people closely connected to the shelter. They did not wish to speak openly.
However, Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak addressed some of the problems.
"There is a real concern that we have with the shelter and running the shelter," Stepniak said.
In the short term, the City put out an RFP (request for proposals) to do about a million dollars’ worth of work to the shelter. Most of it is infrastructure related, and includes a new roof, upgraded HVAC and new electrical. The building is dated.
"It's a temporary fix, but it's a good fix," Stepniak said.
Longer term, the plan is to build a brand-new shelter as part of a new public works campus; however, that expected $30 million project is still years away from getting started.
2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten asked Stepniak why the City doesn't find a non-profit or other organization to run the shelter.
"Being out of the business totally would kind of be hard for us, because we actually have our animal control officers that bring animals there," Stepniak said. "So I don't think the separation completely would be something to do. I think maybe looking at a partnership going forward would be a great idea."
Stepniak said the City is actively seeking new partnerships with animal groups as well as local schools.