By Betsy Dolan
After a few stops and starts, construction is set to begin in July for a new animal shelter that will serve both Missouri City and Stafford. The 2,660 square foot, fully enclosed and climate controlled facility will cost almost $700,000 and will be located off of Scanlin Road in the Missouri City Hall Complex. The new shelter is one of the Capital Improvement Projects approved June 18 as part of Missouri City’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
“The new shelter is being built to meet the growing intake population of dogs and cats for both Missouri City and Stafford,” said Sharon Valiante, Assistant Director of Public Works for Missouri City. “We hope the new animal shelter will create an environment where the public will feel comfortable when visiting and promote a positive image that encourages increased pet adoptions.”
Built in the early 1980’s, the current shelter has the reputation among Missouri City and Stafford residents as not being very “pet or people friendly”, according to Valiante. The new shelter will increase the number of dogs and cats the shelter can house every year, 900 and 300 respectively, as well as provide space for a quarantine area, adoptions, a lab, and a fenced-in outdoor space.
“Right now we are routinely exceeding capacity which is 16 animals,” Valiante said. “But we often house 30 animals at any given time and that makes it difficult to push adoptions and find owners in a timely manner.” In addition, kennels in the existing shelter are designed for outdoor use and even though they have been rigged with a heating unit, ceiling fans and a mister system, Valiante said the new climate controlled shelter with additional indoor air quality and noise reduction systems will be much better for the animals.
Since 1987, Stafford has had an interlocal agreement with Missouri City to use 25% of the facility. The City of Stafford will contribute $166,790 of the total cost of the new shelter leaving $524,821 to be funded by Missouri City’s Capital Improvement Program. As part of the interlocal agreement, Stafford pays a monthly fee, currently $1,625/month, which goes toward the maintenance of the building and the care of the animals that Stafford impounds. According to Valiante, that monthly operating and facility usage fee will be recalculated after the facility is built and in operation.
In early 2011, discussions between Missouri City and Stafford broke down over terms in the design of the new animal shelter. With the city council’s approval, Missouri City decided to move forward on the project without the City of Stafford and a design contract for $57,000 was approved. When the design was at 90%, the City of Stafford decided it did want to partner with Missouri City and an agreement between the two cities was reached in December of 2011 and Stafford paid the $11,000 cost of modifying the shelter design.
The new shelter will have the same staffing levels as the current shelter which includes on supervisor, two animal control officers from Missouri City, and one from Stafford. Construction on the new shelter is expected to be finished in December.