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Mecosta Co. makes alternative plans for stray dogs as shelter pauses critical services over Gotion concerns

UPDATE 9/22/23 6 p.m.

Mecosta County said they’ve found an alternative to house a small number of dogs after the county shelter announced they will be pausing critical services soon.

The Animal Rescue Coalition recently announced they would no longer be offering shelter services after October 1st because of construction for the controversial Gotion electric vehicle battery plant.

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The pause would be for up to a year or until the shelter can find a new location, if Gotion does move in.

Paul Bullock, controller administrator for Mecosta County said it’s what they were able to find on short notice. All the surrounding county shelter are filled to capacity.

“Is it the optimum? Is it a full-blown animal shelter? No, it is not. But that’s something that takes a while to ramp up,” said Bullock.

Bullock says the county is renting some space out from a person who owns a four-run dog kennel.

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The space is big enough to house four dogs at a time. Bullock said it’s the best they can do for now.

“That’s not an easy thing to find. People who have kennels are using them for purposes of their own. We found someone who has a four-kennel run they were willing to essentially rent us all of the runs, all four runs,” said Bullock.

The Mecosta County Sheriff said if you find a stray dog and cannot commit to the animal 100 %, please do not pick it up.

You can take a picture and post it to social media. They said most dogs are never really lost and will eventually find their way back home.

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9/19/23 7 p.m.

The animal shelter in Mecosta County will be shutting down some critical services because of upcoming construction on a controversial battery plant.

The Animal Rescue Coalition or ARC will be pausing their shelter services for the county for up to a year starting Oct. 1. That’s when Gotion plans to start clearing trees in preparation for groundbreaking for their battery plant.

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Cate Arroe, the director of ARC said as of October, they will no longer accept animals from animal control, law enforcement or the public, in the best interest of the animals.

“We don’t feel like they should be sitting in this building with all that noise and activity around us,” said Arroe.

The director said they feel they have no choice.

“It has been heartbreaking. We don’t like not being able to take in dogs and cats. We don’t want to leave anybody in a bad position, which unfortunately, we’re going to have to do, at least temporarily,” said Arroe.

Arroe said after hearing that they will start cutting trees in preparation for breaking ground, they started making plans.

“We have a great shelter. We love our dogs and cats. But when it gets noisy like that, it’s even more stressful. And so, we don’t feel like they should be sitting in this building with all that noise and activity around us. So, we will be trying to get all the dogs and cats out as quickly as they can be adopted and then honestly, our hope will be that the factory doesn’t actually come,” said Arroe.

Arroe said there’s still a lot of people that don’t want the battery plant and are fighting it.

“Let’s say that they don’t come here. Then we could just come right back here. We already found a perfect spot here. And so, you know, it’s difficult to find a nice, quiet spot, which is what we have here,” said Arroe.

But if the plant does come, she said they will be forced to leave.

“I’m 65-years-old. You know, I built this shelter 11 years ago. It’s a lot to build another shelter. It’s not that they’re going to physically build it for us, you know, so there’s you know, there’s a lot of work to that,” said Arroe.

Chuck Thelen, the vice president of Gotion North America Manufacturing, said they have made multiple offers worth more than what the property is worth and offered to buy additional land elsewhere for the shelter.

“We were working with her to try to find a really good relocating package, to find her acreage somewhere else, purchase it for her and hopefully make it a seamless transition. And none of the properties that we have brought forward meet her requirements. They have been 40 or 50 acres in size, so very substantial. But currently she’s not interested in the offers. So, we have put a pause on our conversations,” said Thelen.

Arroe said if the shelter does have to leave, she would be open to more discussions with Gotion about relocating the shelter, and rebuilding everything, but she said until she’s positive of Gotion’s plans she’s not accepting any offers.

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