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Ongoing design discussions for new animal shelter slowing process of building facility

Lack of formal construction plans for the new Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter keeps members of the Animal Control Board in an ongoing design discussion that appears to be preventing the project from moving forward.
While a final agreement on buildling the shelter at the proposed North Roan Street has been reached, new ideas are brought up at each meeting regarding changes in the actual design of the facility.
When Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs reported a 15-year low on the number of animals coming to the shelter for the month of September, City and County Commissioner David Tomita suggested reducing the kennel space at the new shelter in order to include a second spay/neuter clinic.
“There’s no need to waste money,” he said during the Oct. 1 meeting.
ACB Chair Ralph Van Brocklin said the money would not be wasted if the shelter is able to keep the animals for a longer period of time to increase their chances for adoption.
In addition, more of the youngest animals could be spayed or neutered before they leave.
Dobbs said puppies and kittens under nine weeks old are released to adoptive families because they have not matured physically to the point they can undergo the procedure.
In other cases, veterinarians have a minimum weight limit they require before performing sterilizations.
Lisa Witherspoon, of the Washington County Humane Society, asked how many of the animals in this category are euthanized.
Dobbs said the number is low because of people who offer to foster them and are willing to care for the animals until they are old enough to be spayed or neutered.
Dobbs said the kennel portion of the design has been worked out with architect Tom Weems, and they are now looking at the front area of the building.
City Commissioner Jenny Brock objected to anything higher than a one-story ceiling at the new facility based on a recent visit to an animal shelter in Avery County, N.C., where employees said it is not necessary if the facility is air conditioned.
Van Brocklin repeated from previous discussions that a higher ceiling will circulate air better while reducing the humidity and the spread of viruses, which allows for a cost savings by not having to constantly run the air conditioner.
Brock also suggested asking a consultant from a company that specializes in shelter design and construction to review Weems’ plans.
Dobbs said she provided names of several consultants to Weems at the beginning of the project, and he was expected to be working with them throughout the process to ensure the design best met the facility’s purpose.
Board members agreed to request a review, though Van Brocklin said it would cost approximately $5,000.
The review also could delay the bids for the project, which Weems was expecting in early January.
Tomita said he is opposed to selling a concept that could be changed if the project has to be scaled back due to cost.
“I understand your concerns, but we have to move this project along,” said Van Brocklin, who also serves as chair of the Fundraising Committee.
Approximately $1.9 million from governmental entities and private gifts is in-hand or committed for the project.