During a meeting before the city council July 23, city police and animal control officials outlined the latest in a series of design revisions aimed at keeping the project within its set budget.
Money for the project came from the estate of an Elmore County resident, who bequeathed more than $563,000 to specifically benefit the local animal shelter. As a condition of the donation, the individual's name was not disclosed.
The shelter project remained on hold for several months after the initial design far exceeded these available funds. It required city police officials to essentially scrap the original proposal and start over, said police spokesman Jesse Cobos.
Expected to be built on Elmcrest Street near West 5th North Street, a majority of the 3,700 square foot facility will be dedicated to providing improved care for animals. Recent design revisions trimmed more than 1,000 square feet of office space without sacrificing space needed for dogs and cats, Cobos said.
"From day one... our primary concern was to make sure that the area for the animals is the best that we can make it," said Mountain Home Police Chief Nick Schilz. In addition, the design makes the facility significantly easier to keep clean while preventing sick dogs or cats from spreading illnesses to other animals.
"We're very excited. It'll be a very good thing for the animals," said Mountain Home Animal Shelter Supervisor Danniele Rhatigan.
Originally, city police looked at expanding their existing shelter on South Main Street. However, that plan ran into significant hurdles since the building is located on a flood plain, Schilz said.
The additional work required to build in the flood plain "would've cost a ton of money," Schilz added. "It was decided that if we're going to spend that much money then we should go to another location that's out of the flood plain."
The new facility would also alleviate concerns with the existing building's condition, Cobos said. For example, the current air conditioning system wasn't designed to provide adequate ventilation for animals, and the building is not very energy efficient.
Meanwhile, the existing kennels require a lot more upkeep since they're all located indoors. It currently takes the shelter staff two hours a day to clean those dog kennels.
Currently, six of the shelter's existing dog kennels are reserved specifically as a holding area for canines as their pens are cleaned each day. That poses additional cross-contamination issues as the dogs are moved during the daily cleaning process.
The fully covered dog kennels in the proposed shelter will include indoor as well as outdoor space -- something the current shelter lacks, Rhatigan said.
"It's going to be a lot more efficient," she added. "This going to be much more cost effective time wise."
While the proposed shelter won't gain any additional kennel space for dogs and cats, it does gain adoption rooms specifically tailored for both types of animals -- something the existing facility lacks. Resemble areas seen in pet stores, these rooms will allow potential owners to socialize with shelter animals before they decide to adopt.
This feature is expected to significantly help with cat adoptions, according to Rhatigan.
"People come in to look at a cat, and there's no where for them to take them out and play with them," she said. And since they're located so close to the dog kennels, the cats are typically frightened by the barking.
Having adoption rooms located well away from the kennels will give owners a more accurate picture of how well a dog or cat actually behaves, Rhatigan said.
Other features outlined in the proposed facility design include a separate section for small dogs or puppies. This would allow the shelter to save its main kennels for larger, adult canines. Currently, all dogs end up in the kennels, regardless of their size.
Meanwhile, the main dog kennels will include three separate areas to help prevent the spread of illnesses and parasites from one dog to the next. Pointing out the features on the proposed building diagram, Rhatigan highlighted a quarantine area for ailing canines, a holding area for stray animals and an adoption area where people can see which dogs are available for immediate adoption.
Police officials expect to have tentative cost estimates from local construction firms on the project's expected cost within the next few weeks. If everything remains on schedule, bids on the shelter could go out in early January with construction scheduled to begin by early spring.