Humane Society announces groundbreaking

Published 11:37 am Monday, October 1, 2012

Volunteers at the county’s animal shelter are looking forward to a promising new feature: breathing room.

The Mower County Humane Society has set the groundbreaking for its new, larger facility for Friday at 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend as work begins on the 9,000-square-foot animal shelter, located at the end of Oakland Avenue E, east of Highway 218, to replace the current building on 10th Drive SE. The new building will alleviate space problems the county’s Humane Society has dealt with for some time.

“It’s cramped,” said head volunteer Kelly Rush. “Especially on the cat side.”

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At this time of year, the Humane Society has an average of 100 cats and kittens. The new facility will give the workers more elbow room to handle that number of animals, and will keep all the same services from its previous building.

As for the quantity of animals the Humane Society can take in, that number will stay the same, Rush said.

The pace of the project will depend on weather conditions, but if all goes according to plan, organizers are hoping to have the building finished in about four months. That would leave volunteers to move animals over to the new facility in January. All kennels and other equipment will be new.

Rush did not disclose how much the property cost the Humane Society. The current building will go up for sale once construction finishes on the new facility to help offset the cost of the new building and regular operating expenses, she said.

Talks have been in the works for months about a new city pound to share the Humane Society’s plot of land. Rush said the city will discuss whether to purchase part of the Humane Society’s land at a City Council work session tonight.

“Right now, that part is in the hands of the City Council,” she said. “We have enough land there that the pound can go on it.”

The city’s pound, if approved, won’t be as large as the animal shelter, but it will put the two buildings closer together, which will clear up confusion among Austin residents. Many people will go to the current animal shelter expecting it to be the pound, and will be redirected by Humane Society volunteers to contact the police and head to the pound.

When police pick up a stray or lost animal, they bring it first to the city pound. The area serves as a holding facility, where animals are kept for 10 days. If no one comes to claim them, the animals are sent to the Humane Society, if there’s room. The Humane Society pays for blood tests and checks the animals for diseases, Rush said. If there isn’t room, the city euthanizes the animals.

Regardless of the council’s decisions on the matter, the Humane Society will carry on with its construction plans and break ground on Friday.

“We’d love to see people out there,” she said.