Haverhill Expects to Replace Animal Control Shelter, But Private Ownership Possible

A rodent discovered in 2020 at the city animal shelter.

The City of Haverhill will have a new animal control shelter in the not-too-distant future, but who builds and owns it is still up in the air.

The current shelter was the subject of criticism two years ago when it was revealed that it was rat infested with several holes in the walls. At the time, then Councilor Timothy J. Jordan deemed the building beyond salvageable. Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone told councilors Tuesday night another replacement option has since come up.

“There’s an organization called Sweet Paws in Groveland. They’re thinking of coming to Haverhill. I think they’re looking to buy about 25 acres of land in the Bradford section and one of the things that they have presented to us is they would take on all our needs to board our animals, feed them, clean them,” he explained.

Pistone said the group offered its services at no charge, but some type of financial arrangement would be in the best interest of all parties. He noted Sweet Paws agreed to work hand in hand with the city’s animal control officers.

The price tag for a new shelter in that same area was previously estimated at $1.5 million. Mayor James J. Fiorentini called the amount too much at a time when the financial impact of the coronavirus was still unknown.

Instead, the city went ahead with cleaning and patching the old building. Pistone described the progress.

“We did have an exterminator come in. There was a big clean-up done of the existing animal shelter. Our current control officer reports it’s clean, it’s old, it’s outdated, it’s far from ideal. So, there are plans to build a new animal shelter in the same area,” he said.

The police chief asked councilors to give him four to six months to see if something can be worked out with Sweet Paws.

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