A change.org petition for the Commonwealth Zoning Board to extend Saipan Cares for Animals’ stay at its As Gonno location has already garnered 5,289 e-signatures as of 5:35pm yesterday, in a full-throated show of support for the only animal shelter on Saipan.
In just three days since being launched on Jan. 22, 2022, by Kayla Brin, the petition has averaged 1,733 e-signatures per day to reach the initial target of 5,000. Next up is to reach a target of 7,500, at which point change.org says a petition is “more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker.”
Even before then, the matter has already reached all the way to the Office of the Governor, with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expressing his support and gratitude for SCA in a news release yesterday.
The petition and further details of the cause can be found at https://chng.it/TrDYryFYtQ. The petition page also features a “reasons for signing” section, which has garnered many responses from concerned community members.
“[I’m] signing because I care for animals too. And to make sure they also have [a] decent place to call, temporary home and be cared for,” wrote one person who signed the petition.
“We definitely need SCA to keep our stray animal population in check and keep our pets healthy,” wrote another.
“The only animal shelter on the island [where] there are hundreds of animals that need help. We NEED this shelter,” wrote another.
In his statement, Torres first explained the situation, saying that SCA recently announced plans to close down its animal shelter “within the next week due to a decision made by the CNMI Zoning Board.” Torres made clear, however, that while the Zoning Board informed SCA that it needed to halt current operations by Jan. 31, 2022, Zoning did not mandate SCA to vacate the premises.
Torres lauded SCA and its many volunteers for providing “an essential service to our community.” Torres said he has heard many accounts about the many families SCA has helped, and he promised to do his part in helping find “a viable solution for SCA as they are currently the only organization that provides medical care for animals in the CNMI.”
Similarly, Torres lauded the Zoning Board for being willing to work with SCA and granting the organization “with several accommodations.”
“I have been informed that, after having previously granted two prior extension requests, the Zoning Board has decided to deny a third request due to repeated unresolved issues regarding SCA’s current premises. As it stands, under the present Zoning regulations, Saipan Cares for Animals must find a healthier, more sustainable, long-term home to conduct their services,” he said.
Torres noted that SCA has secured a new location for operation, but acknowledged that the property “is currently inoperable at this time.”
In the interim, Torres met with the Zoning Board and its administrator yesterday to “assess their underlying concerns and to seek avenues to resolve them while ensuring that all applicable laws and regulations are abided by.”
Torres will then be meeting with SCA today to “discuss their plans moving forward and how we can better assist in serving our animal population and providing safer living environments and means of attaining adequate care.”
Torres said it is “heartwarming” to see so much community support behind SCA “as a result of all they have done for our community, and I join in support of their cause.” Torres assured that he and his office are looking into “a variety of solutions,” including fostering collaborations with government agencies to support SCA’s relocation efforts.
Torres said his office will ensure that SCA receives its full share of American Rescue Plan Act non-profit organization funding—a $300,000 amount—plus “any additional support they may need.”
“Lastly, I take this opportunity to thank the hardworking individuals who have dedicated their time and services in support of this worthy and much needed cause in our Commonwealth, most especially Beth Pliscou and her hardworking staff,” said Torres.