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One step closer to new animal shelter

Plans for the new animal shelter are moving forward, Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs told members of the General Health and Welfare Committee during their Nov. 9 meeting.
Dobbs said the Johnson City/Washington County Animal Control Board has hired Shelter Planners, a group of retired architects who work exclusively with animal facilities, to prepare a feasibility report and program analysis not to exceed $5,000.
“This report will get us good solid information to build a shelter that will last for 20 to 30 years down the line,” Dobbs said.
More than 5,000 healthy, unwanted animals are killed a year, according to Dobbs, who said the organization outgrew its current space five years after it was built.
“The longer you can keep them (the animals), the better the chance for adoption, but it comes down to a demand for space,” she said.
Because of overpopulation and a lack of space, cats can only be kept at the facility for five days, and dogs for up to seven.
The purchase of a property on L.P. Auer Road was close to a final decision earlier in the year when Johnson City officials decided they wanted to issue a request for proposals. Dobbs said four or five proposals were received, but all were determined to be out of the question because of their locations.
The L.P. Auer Road site, which contains a 16,000-square-foot building that originally held a fitness center, is still available. In addition, 12 acres on Springbrook Drive that are ready for building have been identified. Both locations have adjacent property that also could be purchased.
A representative from Shelter Planners has reviewed the two sites, and will submit plans for renovation at the L.P. Auer site and building from the ground up at the other site.
“We still need the $350,000 (from the county). We can’t do it without the money,” Dobbs said, adding that the Animal Control Board has collected $183,000 in a building fund. “I think once this project gets started, we will have a lot of people helping out, and I’m very positive about it.”
Commissioner Pat Wolfe questioned whether the county’s commitment to a new shelter still exists.
“I don’t think we know what’s happening with the Downtown Centre money,” he said, pointing out that the sale of that facility was where the county planned to get the money for its half of the shelter project. “It might be good for the committee to ask if it is still appropriate for the money to be used for that.”
Commissioner David Tomita made a motion to request as a high priority $350,000 from the sale of the Downtown Centre be applied to the animal shelter in either location chosen. Commissioner Ken Lyon seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Shelter officials will make a presentation to the county’s General Health and Welfare Committee and to the city commission in Johnson City when the plans from Shelter Planners are received, which should be within a month, Dobbs said.