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Animal control shelter ‘go’ after first of year

Even though the estimated price of an animal control shelter continues to climb, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners chair, Terry L. Miller, said Monday night he expects the project will be a “go” after the New Year arrives.
The new price tag — which includes some suggestions from a shelter expert the commissioners consulted — has reached about $513,000. That’s up from the previous $479,500, and it’s $200,000 more than the $300,000 the Harrison County Council has agreed to spend.
“Right now, we’re shooting for after the first of the year to have everything nailed down,” Miller said. If the project were funded before then, the funding would expire at the end of the year and the process would have to begin again. Also, the commissioners have yet to fine-tune the project or decide whether to adopt all or part of the changes suggested by a California-based consultant.
The project would be funded with revenue from Caesars Indiana riverboat casino. But the council’s major concern is continuing operating costs, which would come from regular tax coffers.
Angela Kleer, the project architect with Michell Timperman Ritz Architects of New Albany, said Monday night the latest changes would improve efficiency at the shelter and lessen the number of employees needed.
Miller said an animal control officer would be needed, plus one full-time and one part-time person to staff the shelter. “Plus any volunteers” who would donate their time, he added. “We hope that would be the case.”
That would certainly be the case, said Gloria Scott of Lanesville, an animal shelter advocate who has helped design the building and has spent countless hours caring for abandoned animals at her own home.
“I don’t believe volunteers would be a problem,” she said. “There are a lot of good people in this county.”
About 30 people signed on as volunteers when the process was initiated several years ago, and that figure would increase if the project became reality, Scott said.
The council, she said, should accept the refined proposal because “it certainly won’t get any cheaper as time goes on.”
The cost of the project is also expected to come down by more than $129,000 (the earlier appraised value) if the land and building the county owns in the industrial park is sold in a land-swap deal the commissioners are considering. That would allow the building to be constructed from the ground up, rather than renovating the current building which is considered larger than necessary.
The new site under consideration is next to the county-owned building in the industrial park. The building was purchased by the county at auction for about $100,000.
The design of the shelter is adequate to handle the number of animals that would be expected to pass through it in a county the size of Harrison, according to the consultant, Human Animal Care Services of Watsonville, Calif.
And it would be large enough to allow the animals to be held from eight to 10 days, so lost pets could be retrieved by their owners. The 18-kennel shelter could handle some 900 dogs a year, and, with 16 cat cages, about 576 cats a year.
The consulting firm made 24 suggestions for change, most at little cost, but some were considered too expensive. That includes a heating and cooling system that would allow an air-return rate high enough to keep down the spread of airborne viruses among the animals.
Kleer also said the cost could be reduced by eliminating the proposed $30,000-plus incinerator. There are other methods to dispose of animal carcasses.