09/20/06 — Shelter gets $200,000 mystery gift

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Shelter gets $200,000 mystery gift

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 20, 2006 1:54 PM

Wayne County is suddenly $200,000 closer to getting a new animal shelter, but the money won't come without strings attached.

Lawyer Tommy Jarrett told county commissioners Tuesday morning that two anonymous clients want to help provide for a new animal shelter, but that the commissioners must agree to several stipulations before the donation is handed over.

First, Jarrett said, the county must follow through on its promise to allocate $750,000 for the project. The commissioners included that amount in the annual budget adopted in June. But proponents of a new shelter say it will take more than $1 million to build a proper facility.

In addition, the donors say they want a facility that will be easy to clean, that ensures the safety of the animals housed there that uses stainless steel for the cages, food and water bowls, Jarrett said. His clients also want the shelter built in an easily accessible location.

The commissioners have requested Goldsboro City Council rezone county-owned land near Eighth Street between Humphrey Street and Wayne Memorial Drive to construct a proposed 10,000-square-foot animal shelter. At a public hearing Monday, neighbors objected to its location there. The City Council has not voted on the rezoning and is waiting for a recommendation from the city Planning Commission.

County Manager Lee Smith said the county could look to several other locations where the county owns land.

Design plans for the shelter are expected to be completed by architect Walter Vick by early October. Then the county can begin to receive bids.

But plans and a location must be made final before the donors will chip in, Jarrett said.

Smith said he is hopeful that construction can start in January. That would leave little time for any others residents to donate to the cause. When they allocated the $750,000, commissioners said they expected private citizens to donate the rest of the money if they want to see the shelter built. Cost estimates have ranged as high as $1.2 million for a shelter that would satisfy local animal rights activists. Jarrett said the two anonymous donors expect other private citizens to contribute the rest of the money. As of late July, private donors had given about $16,500.

Many of the members of Concerned Citizens of Wayne County, an animal rights group, and the local chapter of the Humane Society have said they would contribute to the shelter fund, but only after they receive a written promise from the commissioners that operational policies will change at a new shelter requiring more humane treatment of dogs and cats there. The commissioners have yet to submit such a statement.

Most of the organizations' demands are similar to the donors' stipulations for county officials receiving the $200,000.

Concerned Citizens and the local Human Society chapter want the county to implement a more humane method of euthanasia. The existing animal shelter euthanizes animals with a carbon monoxide chamber. Animal advocates said sodium pentobarbital injections would be more humane to the animals and safer for shelter employees.

Jarrett said his clients want a separate, free-standing, commercially designed and manufactured carbon monoxide chamber. At a cost between $10,000 and $13,000, the chamber would be located separate from the main animal shelter building. Carbon monoxide euthanizations would only occur as a last resort. All other euthanizations would be administered by a sodium pentobarbital injection.

The donors' primary goal for the shelter is to improve the rate of animal adoptions, Jarrett said. To achieve that goal, a new shelter must have separate, 10-foot-by-10-foot adoption rooms, a chain link-fenced, 12-feet-by-16-feet outdoor enclosure and the shelter must be open on Saturdays.

Jarrett said his clients also want a full-time animal shelter director, injured animals to be treated by local veterinarians, an active spay-neuter program and volunteers be allowed to assist at the shelter. These stipulations have also been suggested by Concerned Citizens and the Humane Society.

"My clients believe the conditions are reasonable and hope they are compatible with what the county is trying to do," Jarrett said.

Smith said some of the stipulations are in line with what the county wants to accomplish for the animal shelter.