The City of Port Aransas Animal Shelter is nearly 40 years old.
The structure at 409 W. Cotter Avenue was built in 1985. The city has plans to completely revamp the shelter inside and out with about $280,000 allocated for the project as part of the fiscal year 2023 budget.
The City Council adopted the budget Thursday, Sept. 8, during a special meeting.
“I started in in January of ‘09, and the shelter was pretty much in a shamble,” said Chief of Police Scott Burroughs. “We’ve been kind of piecemealing it over the years. And it’s gotten to the point where we just need to take it down to the bare walls.”
While plans are in place, there isn’t a timeline for the project yet, Burroughs said. The remodel will consist of stripping the building down to its bones, cleaning the structure and adding all new components from the wiring to the floors.
The office space will also be expanded, as the two animal control officers work “shoulder to shoulder” when they’re both at the shelter. An animal intake room and reception area will be added as well.
Now, the shelter consists of three rooms, a dog area, a cat space and the office.
“We want to create a reception room where prospective owners, adopters come in and they can interact with their new pet in a quiet area without all the other dogs and carrying on that’s going on inside the shelter,” Burroughs said.
He added in reference to needing an intake room, “It’s a shock to the animals coming into the shelter initially. So we want a really quiet area where we can process them and give them a physical exam, check them for disease … take care of that before they’re exposed to the noise and the chaos that goes on inside of the inside of the shelter itself.”
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey not only damaged the building’s electrical and plumbing systems and roof, it also took down many of the trees in the outside yard. The project will include adding shade structures to the yard where the dogs run as well an irrigation system for grass.
Over the years, upgrades have been made to the building. In 2009, window air conditioning units were added as well as attic insulation. In 2014, central air conditioning was installed thanks to donations and fundraising. The roof was also replaced after Harvey. When donations are made to the shelter, it enters the city’s general fund at first, but every cent comes back to the shelter, Burroughs said.
“The walls were never properly insulated. The windows are just single-pane windows. It’s not energy efficient,” he said. “It’s just time to upgrade it to the quality of a facility that this the city deserves.”
Burroughs is working with the city secretary to fill positions on an advisory board for the animal shelter.
The shelter is meant to be a temporary facility for animals and not intended to be a long-term shelter or rescue operation, Burroughs said.
“Although a lot of times, mostly because of the compassion of our animal control officers, we take on that mission also,” he said. “We’re funded basically to bring animals in on a short-term basis to make sure they’re healthy. And to turn them around and get them back to the owners or to get them to the rescue or some third party pretty quickly.”
The shelter is usually two-thirds full and can hold up to 25 animals, said Rick Gleason, animal control officer. As of last week, eight dogs, seven puppies and 10 cats were being held at the shelter. Adoptions at the shelter are free, and include spaying, neutering, micro chipping and vaccinations.
Gleason said he vets everyone who wants to adopt an animal and doesn’t have a problem turning people away if they don’t seem like they would be good owners.
Although the shelter isn’t a no-kill operation, Gleason said he doesn’t believe in euthanizing animals.
“I have two dogs (that have) been here four years. They were badly abused dogs. They’re excellent dogs,” he said. “But they were just so abused that they don’t interact well with people, but I try to keep everything I have.”
Gleason said the upgrades will be a blessing.
“The animals deserve a better quality of care,” he said. “We can provide it to them. … I don’t have a problem as it sits, but it could be improved.”
Contact Kathryn Cargo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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