story by Jamie Smith with submitted photos, special to The City Wire
Washington County’s new animal shelter is progressing on schedule and should open this summer, officials confirmed Thursday (April 5).
Ron Wood, county building supervisor, said crews were putting up trusses and that next week will involve making even more progress on the roof. All the walls are up, he added.
“We’re still looking at a punch list maybe by May 15 but it might take a little longer than that,” he said.
The 9,000-square foot facility will have enough space for about 18 cats and 80 dogs. It will have a cat room with cages, a surrender area, puppy room, laundry and grooming space, multipurpose room, a small vet services clinic, administrative offices, kennels and “meet and greet” rooms for potential adoptive families to get closer to prospective pets.
Crossland Construction is the contractor for the building, which costs approximately $1.9 million to build and furnish.
All the small cities except for Lincoln and Prairie Grove have agreed to pay a per-animal fee for animals that are taken to the Washington County Animal Shelter from their respective cities once the shelter is constructed. The new shelter will also receive stray animals from rural parts of the county.
Claudette Cardwell, chairperson of the Animal Concerns Advisory Board, said that the administrative plans for the shelter are also progressing. Fifty people applied for the shelter director position and the state law requires that 10% of the applicants for the position receive an interview, she said.
Five people from that applicant pool will be interviewed this week. The shelter will have the director plus five paid employees and a contracted, part-time veterinarian. Supervised inmates from Washington County Jail will work as caretakers in the shelter.
The Advisory Committee is also in the process of deciding procedures and regulations for the shelter. For example, it’s been determined that any animal that has been at the new shelter for five days or more will become property of the county. This is the same policy currently used at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter, which is where strays from the county and small cities have been taken for more than a decade.
The five-day policy is what makes deciding which animals could be transported to the new shelter from the Fayetteville shelter a bit tricky. The problem is that once an animal has been at the Fayetteville shelter for five days and is considered city property, it won’t matter where the animal was picked up.
Cardwell would like to see the Fayetteville shelter simply stop accepting animals from outside the city limits. At that point, any new stray animals that are found in the county would then start going to the new Washington County Animal Shelter.
A non-profit organization called Friends of Washington County Animals works to promote the shelter and the needs of Washington County’s animals. Progress on the shelter can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.
Cardwell said that a grand opening will be planned for the shelter’s opening and will probably be mid-summer. Shelter tours will also be available for about a month surrounding the opening.