02/18/04 — County begins discussion of animal shelter

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County begins discussion of animal shelter

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 18, 2004 1:57 PM

A modern, sanitary and safe animal shelter probably would cost as much as $1 million, Wayne County officials say.

County Manager Lee Smith believes the animal control task force, which requested the million-dollar budget, was close to the cost of a fully equipped shelter, excluding the cost of land.

The task force studied animal control departments and shelters in at least five other counties and extensively reviewed the Humane Society of the United States' report on the Wayne County shelter, Smith said. "That has been a hard-working group."

But the price wouldn't necessarily delay the project, Smith told the county commissioners Tuesday.

The shelter can be financed over 10 years, with the first payment not due until at least summer 2005, he said. That would provide the cash to start the construction process later this year.

The commissioners had planned Tuesday to visit the proposed location -- a 38-acre tract that the county owns on Clingman Street, near the old Wayne Community College campus and the city of Goldsboro's garage. About five acres would be needed for the building and buffering.

But the meeting ran long and the tour was postponed.

"From what I have heard, this land would be ideal," said Ken Gerrard, chairman of the county board, in an interview today. But, he added, the commissioners still want to get a feel for the property themselves.

The groundwork for a new shelter has been in the works for more than two years.

In August 2001, the animal control advisory committee formally asked the commissioners for a new shelter. The current shelter, on Brick Street off N.C. 117, was built in the mid-1950s and was designed to hold about 50 animals. But the county often has far more animals coming through the shelter. And the shelter has flooded twice in recent years.

The commissioners visited the shelter in 2002 and were disheartened by the crowded, dank conditions.

Last February, the board hired the Humane Society's consulting services to make recommendations. Its report was delivered to the county in October.

The task force was appointed in November to study the report and suggest ways that the county could improve the current shelter and plan for a new one.

Several changes have already been enacted, Smith said. "We're in much better shape today than we were five months ago."

Adoption rates are on the rise, he added.

The commissioners won't make a decision on the new shelter for a month. They want to meet first with the task force, which could happen at the board's March 16 meeting.