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2015-01-15

Animal control facility now reality

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The new Bandera County Animal Control Facility, located behind the jail and justice center on Highway 173 North, celebrated a "soft" opening on Thursday, Jan. 8 - and not a moment too soon.
With predictions of sleet and freezing rain and tumbling temperatures for the night of Friday, Jan. 10, into Saturday, it became imperative for dogs remaining at the temporary facility on Highway 16 North to be transferred as soon as possible. Sheriff Dan Butts transported the bowsers to the new facility in an enclosed trailer and Lt. Danny Bowermaster and Senior Animal Control Officer Rick Neely escorted the dogs to their new digs. Later, a work crew made up of jail inmates stocked dog food and blankets for the kennels.
The day before, a state veterinarian and inspector gave the green light for the county to begin housing and quarantining dogs in the facility, enabling county officials to make plans to transfer impounded animals as soon as possible. "They told us we could begin transferring dogs immediately," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris, who, along with Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson, spearheaded the effort. "We have six kennels available for quarantine and 60 regular kennels for housing dogs," he said.
Last Thursday, approximately 15 dogs were transferred from the dilapidated makeshift facility on Highway 16 North. "I think we picked up five or six dogs since then that were running at large," Harris said.
According to Harris the facility is about "99 percent" completed, but there's still a punch list of items to take care of, including heating, gravelling the parking lot, putting up additional fencing and purchasing retractable hoses. "That's going to help with the kennel clean-up," Harris said. "We want to streamline the process, but don't want a lot of hoses on the floor. The cleaning has got to be as easy as possible."
A large cattery also has to be outfitted with cages and shelving. Furniture for a reception area must be installed.
"I believe there's enough money left in the budget to take care of everything," Harris continued. "As time goes on, if we find we have to make upgrades, funds will have to be appropriated during the budget process."
The county's new shelter was a long time coming - since 2002 when expenditures due to a devastating flood forced county officials to house unwanted dogs and cats in a substandard impound facility. Adding insult to injury, when requests for proposals to design and construct the new facility went out in 2013, a single proposal came back for over $800,000. The original budget authorized in 2011, was for $225,000.
In November 2012, commissioners approved a $30,000 contract with Ken Burns of Burns Architecture LLC for architectural plans for long-awaited construction of a new animal control facility. In June 2013, commissioners selected Zane Everett as a construction manager-agent for building the shelter.
In 2014, to jumpstart lagging construction, commissioners approved taking an additional $135,000 from the fund balance to complete the facility. "The total cost of the facility was approximately $360,000 which was a far cry from the $867,000 the court was previously quoted," Harris explained.
By all reports, everyone is giving the building a thumb's up. "It looks good," said Judge Richard Evans.
Harris was somewhat more effusive. "When I got home last Thursday, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming and that the dogs had really been transferred to the new facility. I loved how they looked and acted once they were in their kennels. I know this is a strange thing to say, but I think the dogs were glad to be there. This is the way an animal control facility is supposed to be."
He continued, "Before, I hated to hear a report go out on the scanner for a dog call. Now I know they will be brought to a nice facility and they will never be killed because of space limitations."