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Countdown begins for new BC Animal Control Shelter

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

If everything goes according to plans, in less than six months, Bandera County may have a new animal shelter to replace the current patchwork facility located on Highway 16 North.

During the Thursday, March 22, meeting, Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris brought to the court his recommendations and asked for guidance on how to move forward on the expanded animal care facility. He noted that in budget discussions, commissioners unanimously approved earmarking $225,000 for the proposed facility. Harris believed that with some judicious cost-cutting measures, the sum was sufficient for a more than adquate shelter.

"You can spend $20,000 for a simple pole barn or $20 million if you live in California," he said. "With the money we've budgeted, we can build a decent, efficient and good-looking facility to take care of the animals in Bandera County.

Harris proposed that the facility include 48 kennels with 10 additional ones for quarantine, as well as two catteries. Offices and medical rooms would be included under one roof. The new animal control facility would be built on Highway 173 North behind the jail and justice center as previously suggested. Specifically, the facility would be constructed behind the parking lot for the sheriff's office and jail.

Currently impounded cats and dogs are kept in a facility on Highway 16 North. However, the area is subject to flooding. "We have two buildings that accommodate 20 kennels and we're always at maximum capacity," said Ashley Johnson, new community liaison
for animal control issues.

"I think this is a feasible project, but now I need more outside help," Harris told his colleagues. For months, he had visited animal control facilities in neighboring counties and cities, looking for ideas for the Bandera County facility. Now, Harris needs an architect or engineer to transform his rendering into blueprints. "I suggest we go out for requests for proposals (RFPs) to facilitate this project," Harris said. "We need architectural drawings. It's time to get serious."

To cut costs, he suggested that the county purchase the building and hire a contractor to customize the interior and build a concrete slab. "On a $60,000 building, saving 20 percent in overhead would be a substantial savings to the taxpayers. We could build the kennels for $12,000 saved."

Supporting the proposed location of the animal control facility, County Judge Richard Evans said, "The prisoners have done a good job with the animals and it would be even better with access nearby." According Johnson, inmate crews assist daily wit the care of impounded animals.

Harris noted that it would be logical
to build the shelter at that location if it's feasible. Its footprint would cover 150 feet by 60 foot area.

Evans added that the facility must comply with all governmental codes and state laws, including a sanitary easement around the public water supply. He also cautioned that the facility should also not overload the water treatment plant. "There's a lot of things to think about," Evans said.

County resident Bob Grimes asked if residents living close to the property would be affected by the noise.

"I don't want to get into a 'not in my backyard' scenario," Harris said. "The building will be insulated and the kennels will be walled off so dogs are not looking at one another. There should be a minimum amount of noise. I don't believe residents will be affected by sound pollution."
In a later interview, Harris discussed the facility in more detail. He hoped to use rock salvaged from the razing of the 1970s jail on 12th Street on the façade of the building. Additionally, he anticipated that an overhanging roof would protect outdoor kennel runs from the sun and inclement weather.

"I toured 13 facilities and took bits and pieces from all of them," Harris said. "Cost of those facilities ranged from $20,000 to $6 million. I think by spending our money wisely and cutting out unnecessary frills we'll have a good facility on our budget."

He anticipated that once the RFPs are returned, the facility could be completed in 90 days.

Pictured: Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris and Ashley Johnson, community liaison for animal control issues, displayed renderings of a proposed new county animal control facility to be constructed behind the jail and justice center on Highway 173 North.