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New organization formed to take over animal shelter

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A new animal welfare organization is pursuing 501(c)(3) status with the intent of assuming operation of the animal shelter in Delta.

The Animal Interest League and Sanctuary, or TAILS, has been founded by two animal shelter employees, Joe Messano and Brandy Ware. Messano is president of the TAILS board of directors. An employee of Citizens for Animal Welfare and Shelter (CAWS), he previously worked with CLAWS of Grand Junction and RezDawg Rescue in New Mexico.

Co-founder Brandy Ware, shelter operations manager, is also a CAWS employee.

Both are committed to the success of the animal shelter, and to the health and happiness of the dogs and cats in their care. "Hopefully people will be pleasantly surprised," Messano said.

He said TAILS will be looking for the same arrangement CAWS had with the City of Delta, which owns the animal shelter at 640 W. 4th Street in Delta.

The city has leased the animal shelter to CAWS since 2013. That organization recently decided to reduce its overhead by transitioning to a volunteer-based organization whose primary mission is spay/neuter vaccination programs and fostering and adoption of dogs and cats.

Fearing the shelter might close, Messano and Ware decided to create a new nonprofit. To keep the shelter open, they have agreed to significant salary cuts. TAILS intends to create a self-sustaining nonprofit sanctuary for dogs and cats through adoptions, boarding (facility and in home), fundraising grants and community outreach.

At a work session Tuesday night, the Delta City Council was slated to discuss the proposal from TAILS, which has the support of CAWS. In a letter addressed to the City of Delta, CAWS board members said, "We hope you will consider the proposal from TAILS and continue to offer the same terms to them with regard to the waiver of rent and utilities payments."

As proposed, the shelter will be open 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. On Saturdays, staff and volunteers will make animals available for adoption at partner locations including PetSmart, Petco, Tractor Supply and others on a rotating basis.

CAWS' letter of support suggested some amendments to TAILS' proposal, but also promised financial support during the transition, if council approves the change.

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