What would be required in a new local animal shelter and what would be just nice things to have in such a facility?

What would be required in a new local animal shelter and what would be just nice things to have in such a facility?

Those were the questions asked by stakeholders during a meeting March 19 at the Rolla police station regarding a new Rolla Animal Shelter.

Attending the meeting were City Administrator John Butz, Communications Director Scott Grahl, Rolla Animal Control Manager John Redshaw, County Commissioners Gary Hicks and Larry Stratman, Chief Mark Kearse and Lt. Jim Macormic, both with the Rolla Police Department, Mary Aycock, with the Phelps County Animal Welfare League, and Judy Jepsen, concerned resident.

Redshaw also invited representatives with the state department of agriculture’s division of animal health — Erin Mendenall, animal health officer, and Dr. Rachel Cook, veterinarian. Redshaw asked them to talk about topics like ventilation, drainage and kennels as well as “things that we’d like to have versus we things we need to have.”

Butz said the meeting was held for the purpose of “separating the luxury from the necessity of it — the Chevy from the Cadillac version of what we’re doing.”

Mendenhall, who has previously inspected the Rolla Animal Shelter and did so again the morning of March 19, said the existing Rolla shelter is not “grandfathered in” regarding meeting inspection requirements and that the shelter gets inspected by the same current standards as a new facility.

“As an inspector, when I come in, what I’m looking for is health and welfare of the animals and is the facility meeting the standards?” Mendenhall said. “By standards we’re saying, all surfaces in the facility must be impervious to moisture … during the cleaning process, are animals getting exposed to feces and excrement of other animals? Are there proper quarantine facilities in place? Are there proper ventilation systems in place?

Mendenhall noted that some of the current problems at the Rolla Animal Shelter are peeling paint, rust and concrete surfaces that are no longer impervious to moisture.

“The main thing he (Redshaw) is dealing with is an old facility that is sort of crumbling down around him,” she said.

Since most of the dogs are kept outside at the Rolla shelter, Mendenhall said, there are requirements that should be met regarding bedding and temperatures.

Mendenhall said the setup at the Rolla facility is not ideal for cleaning and areas cannot be dried quickly. During one inspection, she noted excrement from some animals running into the cages of other animals.

Mendenhall said a sealed concrete floor would be  ideal and that there are plastic- or fiber-type fences that will not result in rust issues as current chain link fences have. Redshaw said some dogs that are brought to the Rolla facility tear up the chain link fences.

“My suggestion would be, if you are not going to be right next door to homes, having a shelter facility where animals can go in and outside,” Mendenhall said.

Cook said while commercial breeders are required to allow so many square feet per animal, shelters do not.

“You just have to have enough room … where they have room to stand up and move around or can’t hit their head on the ceiling,” Cook said.

Cleaning and bedding supplies as well as food need to be stored separately, Mendenhall added.

Redshaw said a separate quarantine area that is not available to the public with a separate entrance to bring in animals also would be more ideal.

Hicks noted that in the county, dogs and cats are not so much of a problem as are cattle and horses.

Cook said by law, the animals in abuse or neglect cases cannot be seized by warrant unless there is a place to take them. Cook said if the city has the space, it could be beneficial to have a shelter to hold the livestock until a court hearing occurs.

However, it was noted that there could be additional expenses, such as food or staff or a structure, if the shelter were to hold large animals.

Butz said if a new facility is marketed as a county facility, it could be an opportunity to get additional support from those concerned about livestock for a new facility.

$280 per square foot

Rolla is trying to sell the property on Sharp Road where the animal shelter currently is located. The city would like to build a new shelter on land the city acquired near the recycling center.

Redshaw said there is a potential need in this area for a facility to hold 50 dog kennels and 35 cat cages. The existing shelter has 18 interior cat cages and 24 total dog cages with only four of the dog kennels located inside.

The late Robert Eck, a longtime businessman and local university professor, left $441,000 to the city to use for an animal care shelter.

Butz and other city officials took part in a conference call Feb. 14 with WSKF Architects, out of Kansas City, which has designed new animal shelters in Camdenton, Lee’s Summit and Excelsior Springs in Missouri and in Leavenworth, Kan.

Butz said representatives with WSKF thought the Leavenworth, Kan., facility would be a good comparison to a new Rolla facility. That facility was 7,700 square feet and with a price tag of about $280 per square foot, that facility cost about $2,156,000.

When Butz questioned that cost, he was told to think about the two most expensive rooms in a home — the kitchen and bathroom “and an animal shelter is a big restroom,” he was told.

Hicks said architects and engineers are normally paid on a percentage of the estimated construction costs.

“I like the idea of having people who are going to use this facility and having vets who have a certain amount of knowledge of this type of business to be involved in this rather than would I want an engineering firm,” Hicks said.

Butz said, “You need an engineer or architect to build this … but you’re right, you’re going to have to be challenging them (architects or engineers) at all times.”

Hicks said the reason that bathrooms are expensive is because of the tiles and molten fixtures. “The actual plumbing in the walls is inconsequential,” Hicks said.

Butz said he plans on inviting area veterinarians to a future meeting to get their input on a new shelter.

If the city moves forward with a new shelter, WSKF representatives said the next step would be to conduct a needs assessment study, which Butz was told could cost an estimated $5,000 to $8,000.

Such a study would provide a profile of the current facility and its limitations and a list of needs and would involve engagement from stakeholders and the community.

The next step after that would be to come up with a preliminary cost estimate and project scoping. The city has not committed to do any of these steps at this time.