While the shelter property is offered for sale, the staff will continue to find homes for the cats and dogs .
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Attorneys for groups representing two Salem humane societies and the Robert M. Atchison trust have agreed an animal shelter should be sold.
The attorneys appeared before Judge C. Ashley Pike of the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on Thursday.
The question of whether the Salem Area Humane Society Inc., which operates the shelter, or a separate group, the Salem Humane Society Inc., should receive the funds from the Atchison trust is to be decided Nov. 8 in Judge Pike's courtroom.
In accord: All parties agreed Thursday that Donald L. Vincent, trustee for the Atchison trust, should sell the shelter, which is at 1264 W. State St., west of Salem in Perry Township, through a real estate broker selected by the court.
They agreed that the Salem Area Humane Society Inc., should continue to reduce the dog population at the no-kill shelter until it is zero. Volunteers said Thursday there are 34 dogs and 21 cats available for adoption.
The parties also agreed the dogs and cats shall not be harmed, and none shall be destroyed unless destruction is determined necessary by a licensed veterinarian.
Once there are no animals in the shelter, Vincent is to take control of the shelter premises until it is sold. The net proceeds of the sale will be placed in an escrow account pending a further order of the court, or until the parties agree to apply the escrow funds to buy a new shelter.
No more accepted: The private nonprofit shelter stopped accepting animals last month because it was asked by Columbiana County prosecutor's office and Perry Township trustees to reduce the dog population there.
The dogs' barking has sparked complaints from those living near the shelter.
The agency is interested in buying a nearly 3.6-acre lot along Pennsylvania Avenue near Allen Road, adjacent to Salem's water plant, as the site of a new shelter.
City council voted Tuesday to put the shelter up for sale It must be sold to the highest bidder. A value for the property hasn't been established.
For years, the shelter has relied on about $20,000 it received annually from the Atchison trust, established in 1959 to benefit animals.
But Judge Pike suspended dispersal of the trust fund money nearly two years ago. Since then the shelter has been operating on donations of cash and supplies, and staffed by volunteers.
Allegations: Judge Pike's decision to suspend the trust fund money came in response to allegations from some shelter officials that funds were being misspent and that animals were receiving improper care.
Since then, the humane society has altered its operations to ensure fiscal responsibility and proper animal care, shelter officials have said.
The agency wants the judge to order that the trust fund payments be restored.
But Salem Humane Society Inc. is asking the judge to award it the trust fund dollars, saying it wants to use the money to undertake animal welfare efforts.