12/03/06 — Location in works for animal shelter

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Location in works for animal shelter

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 3, 2006 2:01 AM

Wayne County is closer to having a new animal shelter, just not to an address for it.

Contractors are finishing plans; interviews are scheduled to begin soon for a new shelter manager; and donations are coming in to help with the costs.

Now, all county officials have to do is decide where to build it.

Officials are hopeful that county-owned land outside of Goldsboro will serve as the future home of the Wayne County Animal Shelter. The last time they identified a site, complications derailed the plan.

In September, county officials asked the Goldsboro City Council to rezone county-owned land located on the north side of Eighth Street, between Humphrey Street and Wayne Memorial Drive. Nearby property owners spoke against the location because of concerns with a shelter's possible noises and smells and the potential to devalue their own property. City Council members rejected the rezoning request.

County Manager Lee Smith said he did not want to identify the next potential location for the shelter until the land has been surveyed and approved for construction.

Due to the amount of rain Wayne County got in November, Smith said contractors had to wait before testing the potential site. Once the soil is inspected and the site surveys are complete, contractor Walter Vick and LSV Partnership Architects can create engineering specifications on the building plans.

And then there is still the matter of paying for the facility -- and an anonymous $200,000 donation promised if the plans are finalized.

Early estimates projected that the animal shelter would cost about $1.2 million.

After a call for contributions from the community to help offset the costs, two anonymous clients represented by lawyer Tommy Jarrett offered $200,000 toward the project if certain criteria were met.

Among the requirements were changing the method of euthanization, providing a sanitary shelter, improving the adoption rate and building the facility in a central location.

In addition to that large gift, other residents have donated about an additional $50,000 to the project.

Smith said he and other county officials have already started meeting with employees from Davenport and Co., which serves as the county's financial adviser. Instead of financing the remaining costs of an animal shelter, Smith said he hopes the county will have enough money to cover the extra expense in cash.

Once the engineering specifications are complete, the county can bid out the animal shelter's construction costs. Then, county officials will have a better idea of how much cash it will take to build the shelter.

"Construction costs have been all over the place. Some of them have gone down lately, but we won't know until we bid it out," Smith said.

A new animal shelter will include some new policies suggested by the state and North Carolina State University veterinary experts. The county will euthanize animals with sodium pentobarbital injections instead of the carbon monoxide chambers used at the existing facility.

"There will be no gas chamber on site. The state recommends injections, and they are a lot less dangerous to the animals and employees," Smith said.

County officials had considered implementing a smaller carbon monoxide chamber at the new shelter to euthanize any aggressive animals, but Smith said the county decided against that option. Instead, animal control officers will use a "squeeze cage" for aggressive animals. A squeeze cage has a collapsible wall that restricts an animal's movements so an animal control officer can safely euthanize the animal, he added.

After an animal is euthanized, county officials are considering implementing a crematorium instead of hauling carcasses to the county landfill, Smith said. A crematorium should allow the county to save costs in transporting remains, he added.

Animal cremations could be offered to the public, but Smith said a price has not been discussed. Also, the county does not want to compete with any county business that already handles cremations.

Other policies will be formulated and enacted by an animal shelter manager. The county advertised the job through the United States Humane Society and at county offices. Wayne County Human Resources Director Sue Guy said about 15 people have applied for the job.

Over the next three weeks, Mrs. Guy said she, Smith and other county officials will conduct interviews and choose an applicant before construction begins in January.

The person selected will earn between $37,577 and $58,607 a year based on previous experience and job knowledge, Mrs. Guy said. He or she will be tasked with working with local veterinarians to provide emergency treatment for animals, developing a spay and neuter program either at the facility or through local veterinarians' offices and streamlining the adoption process. Smith said he wants an animal shelter director hired before construction begins so he or she can become familiar with the blueprints and the construction process.

The plans for the facility have changed since the county's animal control advisory board discussed specifications last year. The animal control advisory board suggested a 10,000-square-foot facility that would house 54 dog runs, which could be converted to more than 100 in the event of an emergency. The facility would also have 50 cat runs. The projected cost of that facility was about $1.2 million.

Contractor Walter Vick's floor plan adds an additional 1,500 square feet. The new facility could have the same amount of runs, but those runs will be adjusted to separate sick, quarantined and adoptable animals, Smith said. Another focus of the plan is to include proper air circulation to limit any kind of contamination and to reduce smell.

Other animal shelter additions requested by the anonymous benefactors included separate adoption rooms for animals to interact with potential owners and expanding business hours. And all of the donors' requests must be satisfactorily met for county officials to receive their $200,000 gift.

But the county also requests the help of residents in making sure a great facility is built.

"We don't want to do this quick and have to make improvements every few years," Smith said. "We want this shelter to last 20 or 30 years."

People who are interested in contributing to the project can send a check to Wayne County at P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533. On the subject line, specify the donation, which is tax-deductible, is for the shelter fund. Checks can also be sent to the local Humane Society chapter at P.O. Box 821, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533.