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Prince William Supervisors Choose Design C for New Animal Shelter

| September 20, 2017 | 0 Comments | Community

Drawing of Design C for the new Prince William Animal Shelter.

Many in attendance at the Board of County Supervisor’s Meeting, Sept. 19, were excited to learn the board selected Design C for the animal shelter, a complete reconstruction of a new facility and eventual demolition of the existing facility.

The motion passed in a 7-1 vote, with only Supervisor Peter Candland (R) of the Gainesville District opposed.

County Staff and Cole & Denny Architects had recommended Option C for the design and construction of the new animal shelter. At the cost of $14.124 million, that construction meets state and local requirements now and for “the foreseeable future” according to staff and supervisors.

According to Motion 11-A, the county has sufficient funding to build the shelter within the years FY18-22, including capital and operating costs.

And, unlike the other options, Design C, offers a complete new construction of a 28,105 square-foot facility equipped with an adoption lobby, complete veterinarian space, ACO offices, dedicated animal isolation, quarantine, and recovery and multipurpose room for staff and community enrichment.

The facility will also contain 106 double-sided cat kennels and 56 double-sided dog kennels. Separate spaces will be provided for small animals, birds and reptiles within the building.

The supervisors were presented with three other options for the new shelter.

Design A, at $12.35 million, offered new construction with retention of existing trailers to be used for officers. The existing shelter would be demolished after completing the new 18,000 square foot facility.

Design B, at $13.06 million, offered new construction of a 17,282 square-foot facility and interior renovation of the existing 6,646 square feet facility to provide veterinary and ACO services.

Design D, the most expensive option, at $17.02 million, would include a 6,646 square-foot renovation of the existing facility, plus construction of a new 21,769 square-foot facility. This option offered off-site adoption centers and a multi-purpose room.

Only Designs C and D fully met all requirements from the ASV standards of Animal Care, VDACS Requirements and Audit Findings.

Representatives from the Police Department, Department of Information Technology, Office of Management and Budget and Public Works have worked closely with consultants, weighing in on several designs, and arriving at the motion to approve Design C.

The need for a new animal shelter has been a long-time coming explained supervisors and staff. The previous animal shelter was build in 1975 and expanded to 6,646 square feet in 1990. The site also includes ancillary facilities to meet other needs.

Current animal shelter services include adoption; quarantine; visitation; limited veterinary services office; animal kennels and cages; housing of homeless pets: public education; place for livestock and birds, and enforcement of state and county laws, ordinances and regulations regarding domestic and agricultural animals, but does so with insufficient facilities according to state requirements.

It is not a “kill shelter.” Animals are not put down to make room for other animals. Animals may be put down for other reasons, such as serious illness, or being excessively aggressive.

Pets at the shelter can be adopted, and pets are also housed when they are lost until families can reclaim them. They also receive necessary medical attention when residing at the shelter. Despite all that it does,the facility is overtaxed and in need of an expansion to make operations run more smoothly.

An external audit of existing facilities, as requested by Supervisor Ruth Anderson (R) of the Occoquan District, revealed various shortcomings of the existing animal shelter, finding that it was considered a “high risk,” and in violation of Virginia Administrative Code.

The problems with the existing facility include overcrowded kennels, leading to aggressive behavior among animals; lack of proper cat cages, animals temporarily housed in rooms with chemicals; lack of special area for newborns and ill animals; maintenance items; insufficient space for storage of documentation; lack of room for staff operations, resulting in clutter.

Additionally, there is inadequate capacity for “surge” in kitten birthing season; inappropriate mixed use of space for staff and animals; inadequate office facilities; lack of an enclosed space for citizens viewing adoptable animals.

The criteria for a new facility included the need to meet regulations of the Virginia Administrative Code, enforced by The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; ability to meet minimum standards of humane care as per the Association of Shelter Vet’s Guidelines of Care in Animal Shelters; efficient and cost-effective HVAC system; schedule to open quickly; ability to continue to provide services during construction; improvement of adoption opportunities; and improved space for staff operations.

Again, A and B did not fully meet all requirements, and would thus likely require more renovation in the long term. Supervisors argued that the animal shelter has been discussed for over a decade but also delayed to prioritize more pressing needs. They felt it could be delayed no more.

They also argued that as they are choosing a new construction, they ought to choose one that will last not temporarily but to serve for generations to come

“It is the stingy man who pays the most” said Supervisor Marty Nohe (R) of the Coles District.

Citizens familiar with the shelter, argued that a new shelter was direly needed, and Option C was by far the most popular among residents.

Supervisor Anderson (R) addressed the concerns of citizens who wrote to her saying the money could better be spent elsewhere in the county on other pressing needs. She said that approximately $70 million is spent annually on the homeless in the county including local, state and federal funds, so it is not true that the county would be spending more on animals than vulnerable people.

The new shelter would also cost about half of what it cost to build a new elementary school, and a little more than building a 13-room elementary school additional at the cost of $11 million.

Chairman Corey Stewart (R) explained that almost everything in the budget was frozen after the 2007 recession. After that, the board prioritized roads, schools, parks, fire departments, police departments, parks and libraries. Now, he said it is time to address the shelter.

Candland, the descending voice, argued that one of the reasons he ran for supervisor was to prioritize projects and to build on necessity not “opulence.” Dollars spent in one place were dollars taken from another, as he believes government should not simply raise taxes at every opportunity. While he said he would not describe Option C as opulent, per se, he would like to be more frugal with the citizen’s money.

Many of the Supervisors have adopted their pets from the shelter, as noted resident Jen Jones. Supervisor Nohe even has a dog, named by his children, called Yoga-Batman-ToyStory Nohe.

The animal shelter is located in the Coles District.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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