Members of the Douglas County Animal Control Advisory Board (ACAB) viewed the progress on the $4.9 million soon-to-be occupied new Douglas County Animal Shelter last week. This was the second field trip for the ACAB to get a first-hand glimpse of the progress being made since October 2016.
Almost daily, the new shelter for Douglas County's lost, abused, neglected or discarded animals, is taking shape in readiness to become a modern, safe haven built to help animals until they find a forever home or are returned to their worried owners.
Just over a year ago, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, members of the Douglas County Animal Control Advisory Board and representatives of the Douglas County Humane Society stood on the site along Mack Road that runs adjacent Deer Lick Park and shoveled the first dirt from where the new shelter would rise up.
Bill Peacock, director of purchasing and animal services, said at that time he was hopeful that the staff and animals would be in the shelter by the end of December. However, excessive rock and dirt on the site caused some hiccups that delayed the 19,500-square-foot project, designed by Carter Watkins Architects and built by Spratlin and Son.
He is projecting that an open house and ribbon cutting will take place sometime the last week of April and animals will move into the shelter in early May.
Acting as tour guide, Peacock traced the steps through the facility to explain the different rooms and their purpose as the new shelter has taken shape.
It will be equipped with offices for animal control and shelter personnel, along with a spacious conference room with a kitchenette. Glass-fronted adoption rooms will allow adoptive pet parents to get to know their new furry family member in a non-distractive setting. A Sally port will allow animal control officers to bring stray, injured or abandoned animals into the shelter away from the elements.
A fenced in area alongside the shelter will allow dogs to get fresh air and exercise during their hopefully short stay at the shelter.
Peacock said when the facility is completed, visitors to the shelter will be welcomed into a "huge reception area with double doors." The modern, state-of-the art facility will feature high ceilings and wide-open spaces where rows of large glass walls and windows bring in a great deal of natural light. Beautful red oak trim brings a sense of extra warmth to the facility.
The ADA-accessible facility will feature a separate play area for cats and cat condos, while elsewhere in the building the two spacious main kennels will accommodate up to 80 dogs each. Although the public will be able to go into the main kennels, they can preview the dogs through large glass walls from walking along the hallways that surround the two rooms.
A six-dog quarantine room and a 15-cat quarantine room each has a separate door with which to bring in contagious animals and features its own ventilation system to keep disease from spreading, Peacock said.
He said that the shelter was designed for disease prevention, ease in cleaning and energy efficiency. Not only was the animal shelter designed to be aesthetically pleasing, but highly functional for the care of the shelter animals.
"The cooling system and heat pumps are highly efficient," he said, citing a completely electric facility with the exception of a institutional-sized gas dryer used in the spacious laundry room. The animal shelter will have its own generators to power the entire building as well as air conditioning units.
There are six office spaces for animal shelter staff, an employee break room and kitchenette. A medical examination room and surgical suite will provide care for the animals. The surgical room will be fully equipped to provide spay and neutering for shelter animals before they leave the shelter.
The site has already taken shape from a muddy construction site into an eye-appealing landscape where trees and flowers were planted and sod was laid on the animal shelter grounds in early March.
The total cost of the facility includes all of the kennels, equipment and furnishings the animal shelter needs, Peacock said. It was paid for by designated county reserves, he said, and any incidental costs were paid for through the animal services budget.