Ashland will allow homeless people to bring their pets into city overnight shelters, but only when temperatures drop to 20 degrees or below.
When temperatures are above 20 degrees, pets will not be allowed in the regular overnight shelter that is held each Thursday through April in the city's Pioneer Hall across from Lithia Park.
Ashland city councilors voted earlier this month to allow pets inside city shelters when temperatures hit 20 degrees or less, citing the danger to life. Some homeless people will not stay in an overnight shelter if they can't bring their animals.
The First Presbyterian Church of Ashland hosts a Monday night shelter while the Trinity Episcopal Church offers shelter on Wednesday nights. Those churches allow pets and have reported few problems, except for a few soiling incidents.
Community volunteers, including members of the Rogue Valley Unitarian Fellowship and Temple Emek Shalom, operate the overnight shelter in the city building after winning approval from the council in January to offer that service.
A council majority originally cited liability risk, potential danger to guests and volunteers and other issues, but members unanimously agreed to the cold-weather compromise.
Shelter volunteers must designate an area in the shelter for pets, cover the floor with thick plastic, clean and sanitize any soiled areas, and notify Jackson County Animal Control if a dog bite breaks the skin of a shelter guest or volunteer.
Pets must be kept inside crates, although they can be taken outside on leashes to relieve themselves. Dogs that become threatening or are otherwise unmanageable must leave the shelter.
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.