Bess won’t seek to renew Animal Shelter contract

With a deadline of last Thursday for proposed bidders on the Homer Animal Shelter to do a tour of the city facility, one name isn’t on the list: Sherry Bess, the current animal control officer and the woman who has run the shelter for the past 26 years. In an email to the Homer News, Bess said she decided not to bid on a renewal of the contract.

“It has been my privilege to care for the animals at the Homer Animal Shelter for 26 years now. During that time I, and a dedicated group of volunteers, have tried our best to provide quality of life and a nurturing environment for the animals in our care; make the very best adoption matches possible for each and every animal; and address the animal control needs of this community,” Bess said in an email.

The deadline for proposals is 4 p.m. Sept. 16, but applicants had to attend one of two mandatory tours of the shelter and pre-proposal conferences. The last tour was at 2 p.m. Aug. 25. Two Homer applicants have signed up on the plan holder’s list, Amy Ware of Alaska Mindful Paws and Alyssa Ortega. The Homer City Council is scheduled to approve the new contract at its Oct. 10 meeting.

Bess said she looks forward to working with the new shelter management to make the transition as smooth as possible for the animals and the public.

Review of sealed proposals starts after the deadline. City staff will review the proposals, said City Manager Katie Koester. The city took a lot of input from animal care experts, Koester said. The Sustainable Animal Control Committee also met earlier this year and made recommendations for how to better operate the shelter, such as better records management, a change in shelter fees, visits by local veterinarians to the shelter, changes in city liability, better maintenance of the shelter and a review of the volunteer manual.

Bess said that with the end of what has been a seven-day-a-week commitment, she plans to pursue other interests and perhaps travel.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported this shelter over the years — especially my core family of volunteers. I could not have done this job without you. And, I also want to thank all of the responsible pet owners out there: Those who have adopted cats and dogs and given wonderful homes, and a second chance, to the thousands of animals who have come through these doors,” she said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at