The new Inyo County Animal Shelter continues to progress through planning and development stages after an Oct. 8 presentation by Deputy Public Works Director Jim Tatum to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. Tatum outlined the three proposed building options, which range in cost from $450,000 to $725,000. The first and most basic option would offer no facilities for staff or visitors, Tatum explained, while the latter two options would include a waiting area, rest room, reception and office area. All building options include 24 dog and 24 cat kennels, a significant increase from the current Inyo County Animal Shelter’s 15 dogs and 18 cat kennels.
Inyo County Animal Resources and Education (ICARE) President Ted Schade expressed his support for building Option 2, a $588,000, 3,360 square foot facility, which he said “Was the plan I put together 13-14 years ago.” Schade has hoped since that time to replace the current Animal Shelter, which served as a milk barn during the Great Depression, and lacks public and staff facilities and adequate facilities for animals. “That building has been stretched beyond its intended use for many, many years,” Schade said.
ICARE is a non-profit organization that fosters awareness of animal welfare issues, including the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as properly caring for pets. Since ICARE’s inception in 1997, dog and cat euthanasia in Inyo County has dropped from about 2,000 to 50 animals per year, Schade said. Ever since its early years, ICARE has also been pursuing a new animal shelter to more adequately serve the needs of the County.
Schade announced that, after numerous fundraising efforts, ICARE currently has $150,000 to put toward the construction of a new Inyo County Animal Shelter. The Inyo County Sheriff Animal Trust will add $175,000 to that sum, while Inyo County has budgeted an additional $200,000. Altogether, the total available funds for the shelter rest at $525,000.
According to the current timeline, should the County elect a building option and secure any additional, necessary funding through a loan or further fundraising, the new Animal Shelter could break ground as early as May/June of 2014 and complete construction by November/December 2014.
Schade urged the Board to consider Option 2. “We don’t need the Taj Mahal down there,” he said. “We need to provide a facility that Inyo County can be proud of.” County Sheriff Bill Lutz, as well as Supervisors Matt Kingsley and Rick Pucci were also in support of Option 2. “There has to be a little broader scope to the project than just a shelter,” Supervisor Pucci said. However, Tatum noted additional site preparation expenses not factored into the construction estimates. Site preparation costs, which include an earthquake study, updating the electrical service and water service on site, and ensuring that the septic system is adequate for a larger facility, could amount to $125,000-$150,000.
Supervisor Jeff Griffiths questioned whether a phased approach might allow the County to begin building the new facility without the total required funding for Option 2. With a phased approach, the County could build a shelter with an expandable wall that would allow for the future addition of an office, waiting room, rest room, and other amenities. “I’d rather see it up front,” Schade replied. “We’ve been waiting a long time. Our preference would be to see a full facility there.”
Another question posed by the Board was whether Schade would be able to raise additional funds through a sell-a-kennel program. According to Schade, ICARE could raise up to $100,000 by selling dog kennels for $5,000 and cat kennels for $1,000, with a donator’s plaque for each ‘sold’ kennel. However, County Counsel Margaret Kemp-Williams remained uncertain that such plaques could legally be affixed to County property. Board Chair Linda Arcularius recommended that Kemp-Williams investigate the matter for the next, Dec. 10 update on the Inyo County Animal Shelter.
Chair Arcularius also requested that staff bring back a discussion of loans for the County, as well as the pros and cons of a phased approach, at the same meeting. “Currently we don’t have funding, with site preparation, to do Option 1,” she pointed out.
Schade remained optimistic about the future of the new Inyo County Animal Shelter. “We’re as excited as we can be,” he said. “We’re well on our way, I think.” The Board’s eventual decision regarding which building option to pursue can only benefit ICARE’s fundraising efforts, he said. “One of the obstacles we’ve had is that it’s all been kind of nebulous,” he said. “I think we need to let the public know what this thing is really going to look like.”