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Animal shelter asks GovGuam: Pay your bill

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A nonprofit might cease providing animal shelter services on behalf of the government of Guam if GovGuam fails to pay its past-due bill.

The Guam Animals in Need on Monday issued a statement calling upon GovGuam to pay a 10-month overdue invoice for animal shelter services. The animal shelter will continue to shelter animals and provide uninterrupted services to the public. However, unless the overdue bill is paid, the organization will stop accepting animal intakes from GovGuam beginning Oct. 1, GAIN stated in a press release Monday.

Under Public Law 26-98, GAIN operates the island’s animal shelter on behalf of  GovGuam. In return, the non-profit organization receives a quarterly payment of $37,500.

In November of 2019, GAIN was informed that due to a budgeting mistake, GovGuam would be unable to pay GAIN’s fourth-quarter invoice. “We were told we’re owed payment, but we need to wait for the 2021 budget to fix the problem through a new appropriation,” said Cyrus Luhr, GAIN board president.

GAIN stated it has been in contact with GovGuam, including the Legislature’s Committee on Appropriations, reminding them of the amount in arrears. However, GovGuam’s newly released $983 million budget for 2021 does not include funding for the past-due amount, and GAIN has been told there are no plans to do so, the nonprofit stated. The new budget bill even cuts GAIN’s upcoming appropriation by 5%.

“We’re disappointed it’s come to this,” said Cyrus Luhr, GAIN board president. “We properly invoiced the government. But they violated our contract, and we see no effort to fix the problem,” he added.

If the invoice is not paid by Oct. 1, GAIN will be forced to stop accepting animal intakes from Animal Control and mayors, according to the nonprofit.

“It’s sad because this isn’t the fault of Animal Control or the mayors. They’re overburdened by the stray animal problem as well. But we simply cannot continue providing the government with a service if they ignore paying their contract,” said Luhr.

“We’re a non-profit animal shelter. $37,500 may seem like nothing to the government, but it quite literally means life or death for our organization. If we don’t get paid in a timely manner, how can we shelter animals or fight animal abuse?” said Luhr.

GAIN has repeatedly noted that comparably-sized animal shelters in even cash-strapped states receive on average over $1 million annually from local governments. GAIN receives $150,000 annually from GovGuam. The 2021 budget proposes cutting this amount by 5%.

“We have a far bigger problem with animal welfare in Guam than anywhere else in the states. It’s a public health issue that’s growing. Yet we receive less than a fifth the fiscal support from local government,” said Luhr. “Considering the cuts made to Animal Control over the years, the problem just gets worse. We can't keep ignoring this issue. Animal welfare is an issue our community wants fixed," said Luhr.

"We’re tired of being overlooked and taken for granted,” said Luhr.

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