Council to Wait for Progress Report as Haverhill’s Health Inspectors Decline to Condemn Animal Shelter

A rodent discovered in 2020 at the city animal shelter.

There’s no argument Haverhill’s animal shelter needs replacement, but deciding when and how much to pay remains the issue after health inspectors refused to condemn the building.

Councilors said this week they’ll wait two more weeks for a progress report on temporary repairs and efforts to exterminate rodents. Council President Melinda E. Barrett explained a preliminary inspection was performed and, despite many issues, the building was given the okay for continued use.

“Richard MacDonald sent, I think, two building inspectors and three inspectional service people to the shed today but they did not have time to write a report and what he told me, he would not condemn the building,” Barrett said.

Councilor Timothy J. Jordan raised the matter of replacing the building a week ago, describing it as being beyond salvageable. Reports of rat and snake infestations as well as holes in the walls persuaded council members to ask inspectional services to look at the Primrose Street shelter.

For his part, Mayor James J. Fiorentini argued against spending an estimated $1.7 million until the status of next year’s budget is clearer. He did agree, however, improvements to what was once known as the dog pound are required.

“This building absolutely needs repair. There’s no quarrel from me. The very first thing that we did, we got a second exterminator in. They were there today. They put out some traps. They’re going to do a much more thorough inspection of this over the next few days. They tell me they can get rid of the rats and infestation problem and they can get rid of it for, you know, a year at least,” the mayor said.

The mayor said a handyman has also been sent in to repair holes in the building. He also noted that taking this approach now would also give the administration time to seek out grants to offset the cost of eventually replacing the structure.

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