County officials are looking around DeKalb for a site for a new animal shelter.
William Miller, the county’s public safety director, said the county has “engaged the services of a professional commercial real estate agent to help us find a site and negotiate the purchase of a new site to put a new shelter on.”
Miller said he met in September with the agent, who recently delivered her agreement to the county’s contracting department for review by county officials.
“Once it is finalized she will start to work,” Miller said. “We have already preliminarily given her a package of available sites that we would like her to look at and then find any others that might be suitable.”
In March, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis announced a plan to replace the shelter with a 31,000-square-foot facility on at least four acres of land with an improved kennel area, space for educational opportunities, an outdoor exercise area and a pet mall.
Miller said the county is also in the process of purchasing a new air conditioning system for the shelter.
“The air conditioning system was one thing that everyone agreed that we need to get put in because we need to get air circulated more in the animal shelter,” Miller said.
Three companies bid on the project when the county advertised for a competitive bid. The company that was chosen has “started the process for ordering parts, designing the air conditioning system, so hopefully, if we can stay within budget, we can have a new air conditioning system installed,” Miller said.
The air conditioner will be a fixed system, even though a suggestion was considered by county officials to purchase an air conditioning system that could be moved to the shelter’s future home.
“We tried, but in the air conditioning industry, that just doesn’t seem possible,” Miller said. “It would cost more to tear it out and take it with us than it would to leave it there.”
Miller said the system’s $587,000 price tag “seems like a lot of money to put into [a building] we’re eventually going to be tearing down, but you see how slow government process is. In the time it takes to get a new shelter, we can’t let these animals continue to be hot in the summer months.”
Staffing at the shelter continues to be a problem, Miller said.
“We’re still having an issue with staffing,” he said. “You can imagine the working conditions down there but we’re trying our best to get staff in that’s dedicated to the animals, dedicated to the citizens of DeKalb, so they will stay and work with us through this process as we continue to make improvements.”
Miller said a new animal services advisory board is in place. “They have regular meetings and they are providing advice and guidance in how we can improve the shelter and the services there,” he said.
In October, the county hired a new animal services director, Betty Xan Rawls.
“She brings a wealth and years of experience in animal services,” Miller said.