Council approves $800,000 request |

Council approves $800,000 request

The four-legged tenants of the Summit County Animal Shelter are in for a treat next year.

When the County Council adopted the FY 2015 budget last week, they also approved an $800,000 request for structural renovations to the shelter in Wanship. The renovations will provide secure holding spaces for dogs and a recreation area for cats, among other improvements.

"It will make it a lot nicer for the animals because we will have more room," Animal Control Field Supervisor Delores Ovard said. "It will greatly help because we will have better chances of getting animals adopted. Right now they don’t have much of a chance because we don’t have the space to hold them. But this will give us more time to hold the animals for longer periods."

The building has not had any updates since it was built about 25 years ago, aside from one major renovation to convert a garage to office space, Animal Control Director Brian Bellamy said.

"We have substantially grown in population in the past 20 plus years and we have more animals," Bellamy said. "I don’t want to say it’s been neglected, but it needs some help."

The animal shelter has 12 indoor kennels and six outdoor kennels for dogs. When it is crowded, the kennels are divided in half to put a dog on each side, Bellamy said.

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The lack of space requires the shelter to house "biters" and rabies quarantined dogs with the adoptable ones. The only warning mechanism the shelter has for visitors is a red sign on the kennel stating not to touch the dogs and the reason why.

"That’s why we need to change the way we do things," Bellamy said. "We have one holding area for dogs and so we have to place all the dogs in there. Part of my concern is that a kid won’t be able to read that sign and will get bit. And we want to be able to separate the dogs that are biters from our adoptable animals."

Puppies are separated from the full-grown dogs, but they are put into a minimally heated hallway between the kennel area and the officers’ room, Bellamy said.

The shelter’s current configuration doesn’t allow much play area for cats, either.

The cats are housed in two self-contained rooms with 43 kennels. The first room is used for cat evaluation and the second houses adoptable cats.

"We have no set aside space for an ill cat and these cat rooms have no venting system for the air," Bellamy said in an email to the County Council on Dec. 2. "This may cause a problem if we have sick cats. The cats are not allowed out of the kennels at any time, there is no play room.

"We have nowhere to put them where we can let them out to climb, stretch, or jump," Bellamy said.

The proposed facility would provide kennels, a place for cats to play, a space for puppies, and separate areas for sick or unfriendly animals.

"This shelter was probably adequate when we would hold an animal for days, but now we have animals that have been here for months," Bellamy said. "We want to create better opportunities for adopting them."

Bellamy communicated his request to the council via email, before going before them on Dec. 10 and making a formal request.

"We have three almost emergency level things we need to take care of to avoid liability issues," County Council member Claudia McMullin said on Dec. 10. "It’s a very big deal to separate these animals out and have a place for our puppies. One thing we know is that renovation is needed, we just don’t know what it is going to cost."

The design firm EDA Architects, in Salt Lake City, estimated the renovations would cost approximately $850,000. Bellamy requested $800,000 and the adopted budget reflects that.

Bellamy said he would re-engage with EDA Architects in January and would like to have a proposal to the council by early March.

"It just seems like an opportune time for the capital projects that we have not worked on," Bellamy said. "It’s time to update this and make it more functional for the animals and for the public."