More room for more cats, dogs, and employees: that's what the city's Animal Control section is needed after years of working with the Animal Rescue League at a building on SE 14th Street.
A recently completed Animal Control study recommends a new vendor should provide a new or retrofitted facility that can meet both today's as well as the community's future animal needs. Mike DaSilva has more on why those who work at the current facility agree it is time for a change.
The study says "the facility size should be 15,000 to 16,000 square feet and have the capacity to house 75 dogs and 150 cats, as well as other small animals."
"There is some discussion about the number of animals that we have and can house and that type of thing," says Josh Colvin of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. "But I think the real question really comes to housing them comfortably."
The city's current vendor is the Animal Rescue League, and the ARL hopes to continue to play that role.
"We've been with the city and partnering with the city since 2005. We've actually been pushing for and asking for a building for a few years."
The ARL says the facility on SE 14th Street, which is 11,000 square feet, has lots of problems.
"When you look at standards on what animal shelters need to be looking like now, it's far from it. Everything from cage sizes to how kennels are set up, to reduce stress in animals. There's just a lot of things that can be improved upon."
The city's Chief Humane Officer would like to see a facility that doesn't sit on a flood plane, which this building does, and because of that, has had to evacuate twice before.
"Can you imagine with 65 cats, at max 40 dogs, if not more, having to move all of those animals because the flood waters are coming up from the sewer system," says Chief Humane Officer James Butler. "Getting the office equipment out and having a place to go to mitigate that responsibility is quite burdensome."
But at a public meeting to discuss the study and provide information on the upcoming vendor selection process, citizens raised concerns about a lack of answers to important questions.
"We need to be able to have a full understanding of what the needs are of the community and the data that is available to us simply just does not show what truly a contractor needs to be prepared for," says Director of Furry Friends Refuge Britt Gagne.
And one of those questions is how much this would all cost. Sergeant Butler says the exact amount has not yet been determined, but he said he knows it will be millions of dollars.