Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
The roof is sagging, concrete is crumbling, and kennel fencing is rusting and falling apart. Water has seeped into the building during this summer’s heavy rains.
One dog suffered a gruesome wound caused by one of the kennel’s guillotine doors. Another had part of an ear bitten off because of insecure fencing separating kennels.
The conditions at Montgomery County’s 37-year-old animal shelter could make even the hard-hearted cringe. The shelter needs to be replaced, and the board of supervisors can’t wait much longer to come up with a plan for a new facility.
“We’ve reached the point that we can’t continue in the manner that we have in the past,” County Administrator Craig Meadows told the supervisors Monday night as he led them through a slide presentation documenting conditions at the shelter on Cinnabar Road.
“It’s a very tired building that needs some help,” Meadows said.
Not that the supervisors needed the reminder. In 2009, the county commissioned a study to assess conditions at the shelter and gauge future facility needs. Shelter Planners of America came back with a recommendation for a $3.1 million shelter facility. The supervisors last year set aside $1 million to put toward a new shelter, but no further action has been taken.
Other pressing public facilities needs — including new schools, a new courthouse and a renovated public safety building — have crowded out plans for a new shelter. County animal control officers and volunteers have made the best of substandard shelter conditions and have done a remarkable job caring for dogs and finding homes for them.
But Meadows told the supervisors he is concerned for the shelter’s future and the volunteers with Montgomery County Friends of Animal Care and Control who care for the dogs at the deteriorating facility.
“If this group walks, we’re going to have a big problem, and it’s going to be a very expensive problem to address,” Meadows said.
The shelter handled 738 dogs in 2012. Of those, 287 were reclaimed by their owners, 267 were adopted and 90 were transferred to other rescue groups. Only 63 dogs were euthanized. The low rate speaks volumes about the compassion and dedication of volunteers from FACC, a nonprofit that began working with the shelter in 2006. Euthanasia rates have decreased from 54 percent to 8.5 percent since 2004, according to FACC’s website.
The Montgomery shelter was built in 1976 and expanded in 1981. The 4,220-square-foot facility has 36 indoor and outdoor dog runs, but does not accept cats. The 2009 study by Shelter Planners of America noted that kennels were built with “low quality materials, undesirable trench gutter drainage design, poor finishes, little noise control provisions and no natural window light.” The kennel equipment is “low-end chain link material, which is susceptible to the animals chewing and damaging.”
The consultant suggested building a new, 11,404-square-foot shelter that could hold as many as 109 dogs and 52 cats, and would serve the county’s needs through 2030.
To their credit, the supervisors recognize the dire need for a new shelter. But they have to come to a consensus on what to build, how to pay for it and how quickly to proceed.
Supervisor Gary Creed suggested a “dollar for dollar” campaign that would pair county funds with contributions from the community. Supervisor Matt Gabriele raised the possibility of a crowd-funding campaign like those used to raise money for the Lyric Theater in Blacksburg and the 1-gigabit Internet connection at Blacksburg business incubator TechPad.
But the county has to make a commitment to move forward in order to attract donations from the community.
As Meadows said Monday, “Folks aren’t going to pull out their checkbook until we can sit down and say we’re going to be digging a foundation in six weeks, six months. . . . They’re not going to give money to something that they don’t have any clue as to when we’re going to start.”
Weather JournalMany very icy despite 'bust' claims