Lincoln will look to replace Smithfield at animal shelter

Lincoln will look to replace Smithfield at animal shelter

LINCOLN – Lincoln will be seeking new tenants for its municipal animal shelter, Town Administrator Joseph Almond said this week, after Smithfield indicated it will be vacating the space at 25 Wellington Road.

The Blackstone Valley Animal Shelter in Lincoln currently serves as the regional hub for animal control services for Lincoln, Smithfield and Cumberland, but Smithfield Town Manager Randy Rossi recently told The Breeze that the arrangement feels like running two facilities at the same time.

Plans to expand the shelter were delayed, and Rossi said there wasn’t enough room to quarantine animals in Lincoln. Instead of continuing with the current agreement, Smithfield is now in talks with North Providence about joining their planned new shelter on Smithfield Road in that town.

Rossi said Smithfield’s partnership with the Blackstone Valley Animal Shelter has been a great situation that kept Smithfield’s animal control operations afloat.

Rossi said he and Almond have a great working relationship, but Smithfield is looking for a more permanent solution to eventually close its animal shelter at 3 Spragueville Road.

Smithfield is in a month-to-month lease with the Blackstone Valley Animal Shelter, and still maintains its offices in Smithfield at the Department of Works. The Smithfield Animal Shelter also serves as a quarantine location for animals when there is not enough room in Lincoln.

“We’re in no rush to leave and they’re not kicking us out,” Rossi said.

Smithfield will be involved with the planning of the new shelter in North Providence, which will afford them places for officers and for quarantined animals.

Almond said Rossi confirmed to him after a Dec. 22 story in The Breeze about the souring agreement that Smithfield would be leaving Lincoln’s shelter in the future. The planned North Providence shelter would be closer to the Smithfield line, he said.

“I’m comfortable with the decision,” Almond said, adding that the town will now be looking for another community, or possibly a groomer or other small entity to lease out parts of the building.

The future of municipal animal shelters is shrinking due to local laws prohibiting the sale of puppies in stores and regulating breeding, he said.

Plans to expand the shelter are still on the table. Almond said he’s assessing the town’s capital budget, taking into account any losses to anticipated funds from Twin River due to last year’s closures and COVID-19 restrictions.

If it doesn’t make it into the budget this year, Almond said it would next year.

“We’ve invested a lot in the shelter and see a lot of possibilities for the future of the building,” he said.