New London — A Waterford Lions-sponsored fundraiser is nearing its $15,000 goal to purchase surveillance cameras to monitor the town’s animal shelter.

The recently expanded facility, which serves the City of New London and the towns of Waterford and East Lyme, is located in Bates Woods Park, where unidentified people set off a series of fireworks on July 4. Animal control officers arrived the next morning to find debris in and around the kennel where 12 dogs were housed.

Waterford and East Lyme animal control officer Bob Yuchniuk had described the scene as a ‘war zone’ and was concerned for the safety of the animals, although none were harmed.

Following the event, Yuchniuk and others contacted city officials to get permission to install the cameras.

“They’re all on board,” Yuchniuk said of the city leaders. “The City of New London will manage the installation of the system in conjunction with the existing system.”

Yuchniuk said he was pleased with the response to the fundraiser organized by Waterford Lions Club member Sharon Kanaby. The fundraiser, via GoFundMe, had raised $11,600 of the $15,000 goal on Wednesday. The money comes mostly from small donations, but includes a $1,500 donation from New London-based Cross Sound Ferry Services Inc.

“I’m very grateful that we have a wonderful population that cares about animals and is engaged,” Yuchniuk said.

In addition to preventing vandalism, Yuchniuk said he hopes the cameras will deter people from illegally dumping animals at the shelter, which sometimes happens in every municipality. He said there was a case a few months ago where a dog was dropped into a crate, chewed its way and was found running down Route 85.

New London Police Chief Brian Wright said he was encouraged by news of the fundraiser and said the new cameras would be integrated into a public safety camera system being installed.

” It’s amazing. The generosity, the concern and the outpouring of support has been absolutely tremendous,” Wright said.

Wright said the new cameras, when purchased, would be installed and connected to a new camera system. In January, the city council approved the expenditure of $366,423 for a contract with Cross Camera Controls of Massachusetts to install a series of cameras across the city that are tied to the department and accessible to emergency dispatchers and certain members of the police staff. The city used federal pandemic emergency funds to pay for the system. Cross Camera Controls previously installed cameras along the city’s waterfront and maintains cameras at police headquarters.

Wright said the cameras would not be monitored at all times but could be viewed live depending on the situation. The stored images can be used to gather evidence in criminal investigations and traffic accidents.

Prior to council’s approval of the surveillance cameras, the police provided the council with a list of 34 locations for the cameras to be installed. Most are located at intersections and include Truman and Blackhall, Broad and Colman, Bank and Tilley, and Shaw and Howard streets. Cameras were also to be installed in Riverside, Bartlett, Bates Woods and Ocean Beach parks.

Wright said installing the new system, which complements existing cameras in the city, is about a quarter of the way there. The new cameras, according to city documents, include cameras capable of panning, tilting and zooming, vandal-proof dome cameras and license plate reading cameras.

There was never a camera at the animal shelter, and Wright said the idea didn’t come up until after the July 4 incident.

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