BY DAVID JAMES HEISS
Banning has approved a five-year, $1 per year lease with the Hemet-based nonprofit ARE Animal Rescue for Banning’s animal shelter.
The agreement was approved unanimously by Banning’s city council Tuesday night.
ARE (Pronounced Ay Are Eee) is an acronym for Amber Rescues Everything, and is spearheaded by ARE Animal Rescue, Inc.’s Executive Director Amber Schlieder, who joined the March 23 Banning city council meeting virtually.
City Manager Doug Schulze told the Record Gazette that the city had approached “a few potential operators, but only two reached the point of serious consideration” to run Banning’s shelter.
“ARE Animal Rescue was selected because they are currently a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and they have three years of experience operating a rescue shelter,” Schulze said, crediting Councilman Kyle Pingree for reaching out to the organization.
Pingree told his colleagues during the council meeting that drywall is being readied for painting, new flooring is being laid, and the facility has all new locks. HVAC and hot water heaters are on the horizon.
“We’re on a rapid pace to get this ready for the next month,” Pingree said.
In an interview, Schlieder outlined her intentions that volunteers in Banning hopefully will involve at-risk and foster youth to work with animals “Not only to help animals, but to help the community.”
“Our goal is to be open seven days a week. We’re really excited to help Banning’s animals,” Schlieder said. “We’d been looking for growth opportunities, and this is a great community of animal lovers who want to do what’s best for animals.”
Schlieder anticipates that the Banning shelter will also provide services for the community that include offering pet food or supplies to pet owners who may be experiencing hard times.
At her three year-old rescue program housed in a 5,200 square-foot facility in Hemet, nearly 3,000 animals were rescued last year, according to Schlieder, and 2,544 adoptions took place.
Now that a lease agreement is in place, the city will later approve a services agreement next month, Schulze told the council.
The city is recruiting a couple of animal control officers, who will answer to the city’s Code Enforcement Division.
The city leases the animal shelter property at 2242 Charles St., behind the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and has been managing its restoration, as it had been dormant for a decade after flooding forced evacuation of the premises in 2010.