She also claims that some of those issues have been “distorted” by county officials during a recent inspection of her property.
Hillarie Allison has owned and operated the Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation, which she calls a “no-kill companion animal sanctuary,” since 2003 on a 40-acre tract in Golden Valley.
Allison has been charged with failure to maintain appropriate permits, failure to maintain her nonprofit tax status and an assortment of health violations. She maintains that the facility shouldn’t be considered a kennel because it is an animal sanctuary, not a boarding house or breeding ground for animals.
Mohave County officials have charged her with operating a kennel without a license or permit; county ordinances encompass three types of animal facilities: pet shop, grooming parlor or kennel.
“They say it’s a kennel and I say it’s a sanctuary,” Allison said. “Unfortunately, Mohave County doesn’t have a distinction. That needs to be addressed.”
NEARLY 300 ANIMALS ON THE PROPERTY
In the meantime, she said, she’s trying to comply with the county’s demands to obtain the proper permits and to provide necessary improvements to the grounds, which currently house 209 dogs and 88 cats.
“I know that I need permits. I know that I need this infrastructure,” she said. “But if it comes down to doing that, or taking care of the animals … I don’t know what to do except take care of the animals.”
She said the money she needs to spend on permits and improvements — and legal representation for defense against the criminal and civil charges — would be better used to care for the animals.
“How much better would that be to go toward the animals?” she asked.
Allison opened an animal shelter in Bullhead City in 2000, registered as a a 501(3c) nonprofit organization and had it incorporated. When she moved to Golden Valley in 2003, she said, she allowed the incorporation to lapse because it wasn’t required in the county “and that money was better-served for the animals.”
She said she wasn’t aware the nonprofit status also was allowed to lapse. She said the death of her accountant left the business end of RUFFF in disarray. She called it “a paperwork snafu.”
“I let the paperwork go. It was a bookkeeping error. It was something I wasn’t aware of.”
She said she’s in the process of rectifying the matter.
“It’s all pending,” she said. “I have every reason to believe it will be done.”
As for the health violations, Allison maintains that she’s been “working with the health department and planning and zoning” for some time. “I’m trying to satisfy them.”
She opposes one of the requirements the county has made: the pouring of cement floors for the dog runs.
She said when she first opened RUFFF in Golden Valley, “I was assured that I could have my dog runs on dirt.”
She said cement made little sense in Mohave County.
“Cement is just too unforgiving,” she said. “It’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. It’s too hard on the animals.”
Instead, she said, she came up with a cleaning protocol used by animal sanctuaries elsewhere to maintain sanitary conditions. But, she said, the county hasn’t accepted that protocol.
“They keep kicking it back,” she said. “They won’t even look at it.”
During the inspection last Friday — an inspection ordered by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen earlier this month — representatives of the county sheriff’s office, the county environmental health division and the Western Arizona Humane Society toured the facility. Humane Society Executive Director Victoria Cowper said the animals were in “overall, fair” condition.
“Nobody’s in ‘fair condition,’ ” Allison challenged. “They’re in great condition.”
While she admitted that the inspection exposed some things that need correcting, she insisted she is correcting them as quickly as finances allow.
“The housekeeping, we’re working on that,” she said. “That’s a financial thing.
“The donations, I don’t even cover the food bill, let alone the vet bill (or other expenses).”
Allison said she wants the public to be able to examine the conditions at RUFFF, so she’s planning an open house starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“They can come and judge for themselves,” she said.
(Mohave Daily News - March 31, 2010)