Fortunately, this is not California, where people like these city planners can eminent domain whatever land they want and sell it to the highest bidder. Clackamas County is going through through a process where they deem our shelter as "not adding significant value to the community" to justify its rezoning and possible closing down of our shelter.
The County's plan is attempting to rezone our shelter to a "local business" instead of what it is (and has been since 1985) -- animal husbandry. In doing so, the County hopes to levy $4500 in fees, charge a $1500 business license (good for three years), and set a whole new standard of operations for the shelter. Tens of thousands of dollars would have to be spent to make this rural homestead into a proper business that is governed by the same laws as Intel or Microsoft. New parking lots, building codes, even new bathrooms would need to be made to specifications. It is ridiculous to expect a nonprofit that runs on a shoestring budget and takes no federal or state aid to adhere to the same rules as a for-profit entity, especially since the shelter has been in operation for 28 years this way. All of that money needs to go to feeding and giving medical care to the ferrets, not to pad some bureaucrat's fat wallet.
Just to prove that this is all about money and not at all about making the County a better place, Michael McAllister said this: If you want to remain animal husbandry, all you have to do is skin your ferrets and you'll fall under the category of a fur farm. Problem solved.
WE DO NOT KILL AND SKIN PETS! And it is SICK SICK SICK of you to ask us to do so in order to meet your new standards.
That was the last straw. We have hired a lawyer, but we also need to ask you, our fans, to help us interrupt this process.
If you would be so kind as to copy and paste the letter below and mail it off to the following people, you can help us in our fight to keep our shelter going. Bless you for helping the ferrets!
Note: Also, if you could add your own story to the end of the letter, that would make it more personal and helpful. And if you could send a copy to our shelter so we can keep track of all this good will, please send it to: Oregon Ferret Shelter, 17560 S Holly Lane, Oregon City, OR 97045. Thank you for your efforts. We know it's asking a lot. But we really need this help.
The two addresses to send this letter are:
Michael McAllister, Clackamas County planning Director
Development Service Building
150 Beavercreek Road
Oregon City, OR 97045
Rhett Tatum, Clackamas County Assistant County counsel
Public Services Building
2051 Kaen Road
Oregon City, OR 97045
May 7, 2013
It has come to our attention that you are not allowing farming zoning rights to continue for the Oregon Ferret Shelter after 28 years of being in operation. You propose that what the OFS does falls under the category of "Business" instead of "Animal husbandry", and you are asking us to completely redefine our practices and pay a significant amount into your coffers for this privilege. In addition, you accuse the shelter of not adding to the culture of Clackamas County and therefore not being worthy of saving.
Animal husbandry is described as the caring for animals from beginning until end. The shelter doesn't practice breeding shelter ferrets as a means of financial gain, but it does care for sick ferrets and relocate them into new homes. The shelter takes in more than 350 ferrets per year, and we find forever homes for approximately 250 ferrets. We are a no-kill shelter; no ferret is ever turned away for lack of room or euthanized.
The Oregon Ferret Shelter works with many different demographics, providing various services to help the people of Clackamas County. Shelter volunteers visit local schools to educate the kids on the joys and responsibilities of owning and caring for a domestic pet. We teach and use volunteers to do "outreaches" in local events and pet stores to educate the public on what is required to properly own and care for ferrets, which helps to cut back on pet impulse buying (a problem that occurs in every area that allows pet stores to sell live animals). The shelter regularly works with juvenile and adult offenders through various programs, giving them a safe environment to do their community service. In addition, the shelter most recently worked with Lewis & Clark College for students to perform a day of service for their "Spring Into Action" program. All of these steps help to keep the number of unwanted, abandoned, or dumped ferrets down and the number of involved community members up.
Not only does the OFS teach children and help ferrets, but it also helps the elderly and disabled in the Clackamas County community. Many retired and disabled persons take unadoptable ferrets into foster care, giving these people a vital purpose while helping out a ferret that may otherwise be euthanized.
The Oregon Ferret Shelter is also a very necessary part of your community for this reason: The Oregon Humane Society doesn't keep ferrets at their shelters -- they rely on the OFS to handle unwanted ferrets. Most local animal control facilities in this area do the same. The Oregon Ferret Shelter is one of the largest ferret shelters in the United States, and this shelter is known worldwide for the good that it does. Its fame brings your county worldwide recognition. This alone is a very good reason for your reconsideration in this matter.
It is our understanding that you have refused to let the shelter continue to operate "as is" under a grandfather clause. We are pleading for your reconsideration in this situation. No harm is being done, only good!