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Meeker County seeks to partner with Kandiyohi County for animal shelter

Volunteers Chris, left, and Lynn Peterson of Willmar spend time recently with Snoops the beagle at the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County shelter in Willmar. Volunteers frequently help with needed tasks such as walking the dogs or providing the opportunity for the cats and dogs housed there to interact with people. The strength of the local volunteer network is one of the factors contributing to Meeker County's interest in a partnership with Kandiyohi County for animal sheltering. (Tribune photo by Ron A...

LITCHFIELD -- Meeker County is hoping to strike an agreement in the coming weeks with Kandiyohi County to share in the use of the new Humane Society building to be built in Willmar.

Meeker County Administrator Paul Virnig said in an interview last week that the county has been in discussions for a few weeks with Kandiyohi County about an agreement. The Meeker County Board of Commissioners has authorized the county to continue those discussions.

Virnig said Meeker County began considering the partnership after Kandiyohi County accepted a bid of $515,400 last month to construct the new 5,600-square-foot building. Kandiyohi County, the city of Willmar and the local nonprofit Humane Society of Kandiyohi County are splitting the costs.

"We have an interest in partnering with them," Virnig said. "Right now, (Meeker County) itself doesn't have anything within the county. ... What we're utilizing now is working OK, but it's a little fragile."

Virnig said Meeker County currently has an arrangement with a private shelter company in Wright County for all the animals taken in by its Humane Society.

However, should any of the Humane Society's three volunteers quit, Virnig said, Meeker County would need help and it most likely wouldn't include construction of a shelter.

"For the short term, things are going OK, but down the road, it's been a concern for a while," Virnig said. "For a long-term commitment, it would be nice to establish a working relationship (with the facility in Kandiyohi County)."

So far Virnig said the two counties have discussed few details about the partnership agreement. He said both parties have considered a one-time appropriation payment from Meeker County for the building's cost and some type of annual financial arrangement.

"So we'd actually buy into the building," Virnig said.

Although Kandiyohi County will technically own the building in Willmar, the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County will be paying for such things as maintenance and insurance.

Virnig said if the idea materializes, the partnership would make the Humane Society group located in Meeker County "a little more stable."

"This is a long-term solution," Virnig said. "(The Humane Society) is going to be there a long time, and there's nothing else in the area ... that seems to fit that commitment."


According to the Tribune archive, the new Humane Society building in Kandiyohi County was originally estimated to cost $575,611. The bid was awarded for $515,400.

The county will supply $250,000 toward the project, as will the nonprofit Humane Society of Kandiyohi County. The city of Willmar will also contribute $10,000 a year for five years.

As of mid-March, the Humane Society has raised about 91 percent of its construction costs.

The building will be constructed in Willmar's new industrial park near the Coca-Cola Bottling Company on U.S. Highway 12. The land was donated by the city of Willmar, which also is paying for utility hook-ups.