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County commissioners have authorized a design phase for a new animal shelter, a facility that County commissioner Tom Lundy said may begin construction during the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Catawba Countyâ€™s current animal shelter has a capacity of 78 animals, but houses about 200 dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals on a daily basis. Walking down the shelterâ€™s hallways, about seven dogs are assigned to one run â€” numbers that shelter manager Jay Blatche said are unacceptable.
â€śThe county animal population has outgrown this shelter that was built 25 years ago,â€ť Blatche said. â€śThe ratio of dropping off animals to adopting one is (skewed).â€ť
Capacity issues at the shelter have caused more animals to be euthanized, and the shelter now averages about 18 animals per day or 70 percent of the total animal population, according to county records.
The current shelter has limited air flow, and the dogs have no outdoor kennels or runs. Limited airflow means the potential for the rapid spread of disease, which is something the shelter does not have the means to treat.
â€śEvery shelter in the nation has sickness coming in and out of the shelter, but it would be a lot easier to maintain with a new shelter,â€ť Blatche said. â€śWith a more modern facility, we would be able to treat some of these animals, and they would not have to be put down.
â€śRight now, we do not have an exam room or a treatment room. If a dog has kettle cough, we have no way to isolate them. We need some place where we can quarantine the animals, so they donâ€™t affect the other animals in the shelter.â€ť
Recently, Blatche said there has been a constant stream of animal drop-offs at the shelter â€” drop-offs that he cannot refuse.
â€śWhen they bring them in, we canâ€™t say no,â€ť Blatche said. â€śWe canâ€™t say no, and weâ€™re going to make more room for them.â€ť
Blatche said the shelter has studied the â€śpros and consâ€ť of building a new shelter for the past two years and decided itâ€™s time for a change.
â€śI went around the state and looked at a bunch of different shelters.
Iâ€™ve been to 10 different shelters to see whatâ€™s needed, so we get the biggest bang for our buck,â€ť Blatche said. â€śWith the influx of animals that we have here, the only way we are going to start correcting some of the sickness and the problems, is to get a new shelter.â€ť
The Board of Commissioners authorized a design to be completed for the new animal shelter, said Catawba County Public Information Officer Dave Hardin, adding that the design process has already started.
â€śThere is no particular timeline for that design to come back,â€ť Hardin said. â€śHowever, once that design comes back, it is presented to the Board of Commissioners.â€ť
Lundy said in May that the county plans to â€śbreak groundâ€ť on the new shelter in FY 2011-12.
The 2011-12 county budget approved June 6 reserved $187,500 for the countyâ€™s anticipated share of future debt payments for the new shelter.
Funds were also included to replace two animal control trucks with a van. The van will improve efficiency by allowing animal control officers to pick up multiple animals in extreme weather conditions, rather than having to immediately return to the shelter, Lundy said in his FY 2011-12 budget report.
For more information on the animal shelter or to look at adoptable animals, visit catawbacountync.gov/animal.