The new animal shelter in Odessa is scheduled for completion in November, and shelter manager Kelley Hendricks says the new facility is definitely worth the expense.
The $ 8.3 million facility will double the number of kennels currently available to house cats and dogs, improve the ventilation system to reduce the likelihood of disease spreading, and provide a better drainage system. In addition, a crematorium will be built on site so that anesthetized pets will no longer end up in the landfill, Hendricks said.
The facility, which will replace the city’s 30-year-old shelter, will be more than 20,000 square feet and will be funded by bond extracts approved in 2019 and approved by the House of Representatives.
At the May 2021 meeting of the city council, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said the philosophies had changed since the original facility was built. At the time, the city kept animals for three days before anesthetizing those who were not required. Now the idea is to place the animals for as long as possible so that people have a chance to adopt them.
Hendricks, who took over as shelter manager in January 2021, said the outbreaks were a huge concern for those working in the animal welfare area and were a major consideration when designing the new facility.
“Once you catch an illness, you have to close it to close the front door. If it is a deer, it can be closed for two to three months because that is how long the cattle can last. Or he puts the whole building to sleep, Hendricks said. “These are porous floors, concrete is porous. I don’t care how hard you close it, it has a porous side and that disease gets in there and sits there in a sleepy state. And you can kill, you can kill. You can do anything, but all you need is a sick dog and you lose your building. “
Since taking over his post, Hendricks said he has introduced more stringent procedures to test for cataracts, parvo, giardia and feline leukemia.
In 2020, the shelter had to be closed for three months due to outbreaks, and in 2021 for two weeks.
Hendricks said increasing the number of kennels from 116 to 231 will allow shelter staff to quarantine and segregate animals more effectively.
In addition, the shelter will be converted by air conditioners instead of evaporative coolers and will have a state-of-the-art ventilation system, Hendricks said. The swamp’s cooling and ventilation systems at the current shelter have helped spread the disease.
What’s more, the new shelter is cutting channels into the floor so water can drain more efficiently, he said. Shelter staff are constantly cleaning and draining the kennels, but the current drainage system consists of small drains that often clog.
“People say, ‘Well, why did they build such an expensive building?’ Well, I’m sorry the buildings are expensive and should be seen as a shelter like a hospital, not a shelter, ”Hendricks said.
The additional kennels will hopefully help reduce the number of pets that are anesthetized each year for reasons other than the disease, Hendricks said.
Under the Texas Public Information Act, just over 6,700 cats and dogs were killed between 2019 and 2021, according to records from the city.
In addition to diseases, animals have also been anesthetized due to injuries, aggression and lack of space, although they have been trying to stop anesthesia for spatial reasons since January.
The shelter is working with animal rescue organizations as much as possible in the hope that all the animals will be adopted, Hendricks said. In fact, Dog Rescue R Us transports roughly 85 animals from the Odessa shelter to other shelters every month.
According to city records, between 2019 and 2021, nearly 4,100 animals were released to rescue organizations. While the animals are being adopted, many are sent by rescuers to a foster parent.
The shelter itself adopted 2,260 animals during the same period. They got another 1800 back to their owners.
People need to know that they are responsible for the cost of running an animal shelter in Odessa, which is also home to stray and lost animals found in Ector County, which has no legal personality, Hendricks said.
People need to be responsible keepers, ”he said. They need to neuter and neuter their pets, keep them in their home and yard, microchip and vaccinate them.
Free-roaming animals will reproduce, be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, and become infected with infectious diseases, which will result in a high rate of anesthesia, he said.
The shelter simply can’t accommodate all the animals injured on the street and provide them with medical care, Hendricks said. When the backups are full, many are put to sleep.
“As a city, we can’t take on the burden that the community is responsible for. They are the ones who let their dogs run. Yes, they are not microchips. They are the ones who don’t vaccinate, and that’s not the burden of the city. Theirs, Hendricks said. – You’ll see me. I will continue to point to the community because we will continue to address this issue until they join. We can’t stop it. This is the locks. I try to explain, but I don’t get a dog in the front door. They’re bringing me nine. – Oh, well, we’re moving… Oh, I don’t have time for that. We hear that every day, all day. ”
If he had a magic wand, Hendricks said he would require every pet owner to microchip and vaccinate their animals, set up a low-cost neutering and neutering clinic in the shelter, and employ many more staff. He currently has an adoption coordinator, two veterinary technicians and five temporary staff who are far from enough to staff the new facility, he said.
He would also like to implement a Pay it Forward neutering and neutering program that he recently learned about. The program would allow pet owners to donate as much as they could afford to the next animal in line.
Hendricks hopes Ector County will one day enforce the same ordinances as the city so everyone will be on one page. Their own shelter would be good, too, ”he said.
“Because they have no disposition, they have no way to monitor or control their affairs,” Hendricks said. “People in the county are putting down the city because they think they will be treated better. The residents of the town are landing in the county because “I want as far as I can” and then there are the people who are pounding on the lease of the oil fields and the yard of the company. Some of them pass through the gate and fences, even with the risk of breaking the animal’s leg just to get there. This is crazy. This is the thought process we need to change in our community. ”