05/31/06 — Shelter start date is getting closer

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Shelter start date is getting closer

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 31, 2006 1:57 PM

Animal shelter advocates could see construction of a new facility within the next year, a county official told a meeting of the Animal Control Advisory Committee Tuesday.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith told committee members that some planning costs and architecture fees are included on this year's budget, but cautioned that the spending plan has not been approved by the county commissioners.

"There are a lot of problems and places the commissioners could spend the money they are in charge of. I'm honored that they are considering this," said Dr. Stan Griffith, committee chairman.

In addition to the committee members, 15 local veterinarians also attended the meeting at the Goldsboro Country Club to learn about the progress being made toward the new shelter as well as to discuss procedures that should be implimented at the new facility.

The county's animal shelter was built in 1956 and even survived Hurricane Floyd in 1999, but Smith said the building is not serving the county's current needs.

"We just can't stay in the current facility. They service about 8,000 animals a year in 1,000 square feet. I don't know how they do it," he said.

Dr. Griffith said the animal shelter is undesirable for many reasons including a lack of modern and safe animal containment facilities, an inability to provide proper sanitation for the animals and workers and the building's location in a floodplain.

Brant Brown, director of the county's buildings and grounds department, said many of these problems would be fixed with a new shelter.

The location of a new animal shelter would be accessible to all residents from a central location in the county. Dr. Griffith said the committee has discussed building near U.S. 70 and Clingman Street west of the Southern Market grocery store on Wayne Memorial Drive. The land is county-owned, which would save costs in planning and construction.

Within the proposed 10,000-square-foot structure, there would be about 50 dog runs that could hold twice as many animals in an emergency, Dr. Griffith said. The building would also have 50 cat cages. The current animal shelter sometimes holds as many as six animals to a cage, because there is no other space for the animals, he added.

"We don't have adequate containment facilities to do the things we need to do," Dr. Griffith said.

The site could cost about $1.2 million, but, Smith said, that number could change since the cost of construction equipment has continued to increase. The price would be worth it, Dr. Griffith said, because the shelter would be a facility that serves the community for the next 40 years.

"If we build cheap, we are going to end up with cheap, but we also understand that you can't spend everything," he said.

The county has asked architecture firms for qualifications for service, Smith said. County officials are hoping to find an architecture firm that is familiar with building animal shelters to take on the project, and Brown said they have received responses and are evaluating them before presenting the material to the commissioners.

The local veterinarians at the meeting discussed some of the operating procedures for a new shelter including a spay and neuter program, euthanizing animals and providing expertise to animal control officers when dealing with an injured animal.

Dr. Griffith said the current method of mass euthanization by carbon monoxide is a danger to the shelter's staff and the public, and it is no longer publicly acceptable.

Although a new facility would still have a gas chamber, Griffith said he hopes it would only be used on the most unruly animals. Instead, he said he wants animals to be given an injection of sodium barbital.

Also, adopted animals should not leave the shelter until they are spayed or neutered, Dr. Griffith said. He asked the veterinarians to consider a uniform price for spaying and neutering animals, and the doctors said they would discuss the topic.

Although it could be many months before construction begins on a new facility, Smith said the county is considering its funding options. Since there are not many grants available for this kind of project, he said a new animal shelter would have to be financed by the county and have support from private citizens and organizations.

Some organizations like the Wayne County Humane Society have began raising money, and Smith said the county has had money building in an account for the past few years.

People who are interested in contributing can send a check to Wayne County at P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533. On the subject line, specify that the check is for the shelter fund. Smith said donations are tax-deductible.

Checks can also be sent to the local Humane Society chapter at P.O. Box 821, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533.