Digging in to animal shelter’s new homePublished 7:00pm Saturday, October 6, 2012
One small shovelful for the Mower County Humane Society, one giant hole for Austin’s new animal shelter.
MCHS volunteers broke ground on a 9,000 square-foot animal shelter Friday afternoon. The shelter, an aluminum structure which should take about four months to complete, won’t necessarily take more animals than the current MCHS shelter, which can house up to 100 cats and 25 dogs without issue.
“We’re pretty happy,” said Kelly Rush, MCHS volunteer.
While MCHS volunteers will have more room to house the animals, the best part of the new shelter lies in its air filtration system, which allows for better air circulation which means less health concerns.
According to MCHS President Jay Lutz, the building is designed with under-floor heating and air control ventilation, with as many green practices as possible.
Though MCHS volunteers briefly considered geothermal heating, the cost to install it outweighed the benefits at this time.
“We still have to be able to operate on a shoestring budget,” he said.
MCHS volunteers sought a larger building for years as the demand to house wayward animals has grown. Though MCHS started using its shelter at 10th Street SE in 1999, the building wasn’t large enough to properly house many animals.
After several donors stepped in with almost $400,000 in funding last year, MCHS volunteers started to research a new building as well as potential land to put it. MCHS partnered with the city of Austin earlier this year to find land where a new MCHS shelter and a new city shelter could share space, which would reduce costs for both organizations.
The new building won’t come cheap. It will cost a bit more than $600,000 for Austin-based Wagner Construction to put the building up, not counting the concrete, land use, and new street leading to the shelter.
While the Austin City Council will consider purchasing the lower third of the land bought by MCHS at its next council meeting Oct. 15, Lutz said in total the project would cost the humane society more than $800,000.
MCHS stills need to raise more money to pay for the project, though Lutz says the humane society should be able to pay for the building itself. Yet the new building signifies a definite need in the community and a commitment to be responsible with wayward pets.
“Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, it seems this is important to everyone in the community,” Lutz said.