Animal Control Advisory Board member Herb Emory made the motion to recommend the new location to the Douglas County Commission. He said the current location in northwest Douglas County near the county landfill can be difficult to find.
“It’s hard to tell people how to get to the shelter,” he said. “It’s not centrally located.”
Emory said he felt the county is forced now to take “baby steps” in its animal care and adoption efforts when it should be taking “giant steps.”
“I just felt like we should go ahead [with planning],” Emory said.
He said he felt a location on county-owned land near the current jail off Fairburn Road would allow easier public access while allowing department officials the option of using inmates to do such routine duties as cleaning cage areas – freeing up animal control department workers to provide closer care for the animals.
“We’ve got to come up with a better way to do some of these routine duties,” Emory said.
Newly-hired animal services director Bill Peacock, who is also county purchasing director, told the advisory board he planned to send out a request for proposals to find a possible architect.
The current 6,000-square-foot shelter was built in the mid-1980s to serve a population less than half that of modern-day Douglas County, officials have said. The Douglas County Humane Society operated the shelter until 2004 when the county took over operations.
Capacity is about 80 animals and about 170 animals were housed at the facility last week, officials said.
District 3 County Commissioner Mike Mulcare said commissioners are aware of the need for a new facility.
“It’s a crying need,” he said.
However, the commission must find a way to pay for it. Though a bond issue has been proposed, Mulcare said officials also are considering a plan similar to how the county paid for the Blake Gammill Building in downtown Douglasville,.
The county used a lease/purchase agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia to finance the Gammill building. It is scheduled to pay off the loan in November.
“This is a single commissioner’s opinion,” Mulcare noted.
The commissioner said he personally has supported building a new shelter “for years” and supports the animal control board’s recommendation for a new building.
He said he would like to see a shelter built with a more modern design using “pods” to isolate animals and help halt the spread of airborne disease. It also should include a customer care area to allow the public to socialize with potential adopted pets, Mulcare said.
Mulcare said he felt a new shelter building could be built next to the existing shelter off Cedar Mountain Road northwest of Douglasville. The existing building could be partially demolished, with the remaining structure possibly used for quarantine or other isolation needs, he said.
A location near the jail is “plausible” but the county may need the land for a future government services building if the courts need to expand inside the current courthouse on Hospital Drive, Mulcare said. Most county government offices now share the building with the courts.
“I am open to the [jail site] option,” he said. “I think the location is going to be a pivotal issue.”