Williamson County animal shelter’s $10.5 million expansion nears finish

A $10.5 million expansion will bring 64 additional canine kennels and 93 new feline kennels to help the shelter continue nits mission.

A $10.5 million expansion will bring 64 additional canine kennels and 93 new feline kennels to help the shelter continue nits mission.

Image description
Take me home!
Image description
Saving Animals in 2018
The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter has been a no-kill shelter since December 2010, but to maintain that status, Animal Services Director Cheryl Schneider said shelter staff has to find creative ways to keep animals alive, including turning hallways and closets into living spaces.

“We’ve used up every area in the shelter—expanded in every area we could—to house the animals we house,” Schneider said. “We don’t put a time limit on animals when they come in. ... We give animals as long as they need to find a home.”

The shelter, which takes in lost and abandoned animals from all over Williamson County except Georgetown and Taylor, which have their own city-run shelters, will complete a $10.5 million renovation and expansion in March.

The project includes a new adoption center in a separate two-story building and a renovated surgical area, laundry room, and updated air conditioning and plumbing.

The adoption center will add 64 canine kennels and 93 feline kennels and include room for administrative staff. The center will also have a dedicated entrance and parking lot off Wilco Way.

Schneider said the shelter’s original facility was too small to begin with when it opened on March 14, 2007, holding 85 canine and 93 feline kennels. In order to accommodate animals, Schneider said staff has often had to keep two animals together in single kennels. The shelter has also relied heavily on foster families to help free up space.

“The reason [the shelter] stays no-kill is because of community support,” Schneider said. “We foster out a lot of animals every year, [and] those are animals that did not take up space in our shelter. If we had to house those animals for the amount of time they were in foster we would not be no-kill.”

Matt and Becca Sadler of North Austin were at the shelter in early January to sign up to foster a dog. The couple said fostering helps dogs adapt to the routine of family life so when the dogs are adopted their new families will know how the dog interacts in a home.

Matt Sadler added that the couple has fostered 10 dogs since 2012, and all had been adopted.

“[Fostering] also frees up kennel space for the shelter, and the dog gets to interact with humans and develop some personality, develop some training,” Becca Sadler said.

Iris Vega of Georgetown was also at the shelter in early January with her two granddaughters picking up their new family member: a dog named Lucky.

“Dogs here [at the shelter], they deserve a good home,” Vega said. “So rather than buying [a dog] we decided to adopt one.”

The regular adoption fee for an animal is $75, which includes vaccines, spay and neuter surgery, heartworm and feline leukemia screening, and microchipping, according to the shelter’s website.

“We’ve used up every area in the shelter—expanded in every area we could—to house the animals we house.”
— Animal Services Director Cheryl Schneider



In 2018, the shelter had 2,358 animals fostered and 4,510 animals adopted. These efforts, Schneider said, helped the shelter achieve a 97 percent save rate. To be identified as no-kill, a shelter needs to have a save rate of at least 90 percent.

To help speed along its expansion, the shelter’s staff temporarily offered adoptions of dogs and cats out of the show barn in San Gabriel Park in Georgetown, a move that reduced the expansion’s construction timeline by about six months, Schneider said.

The shelter also sent 10 dogs in January to a shelter in Washington state through a program that transports animals from full-capacity shelters to ones that have extra space within the U.S.

“In the past, the community has been really good about coming in and adopting, making sure we had enough room, responding to our calls of distress when we get overcrowded, but in the last six months or so we’ve found that we are not able to get dogs out of here so we needed to start looking at other options,” Schneider said.

Schneider added that she hopes to expand the shelter’s services for pet owners to include low-cost vaccines and spaying and neutering clinics.

The Williamson County Commissioners Court approved funding in the county’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget for the first full-time veterinarian at the clinic. Schneider said the new position would help run the clinics and hopefully reduce the number of animals in the shelter.

“The mission [of the shelter] is to help stray and lost animals,” Schneider said. “We take in all animals from our jurisdictions regardless of behavior, temperament, age [or] health. It doesn’t matter.”
By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


MOST RECENT

Tarvin Elementary School construction
New Leander ISD rezoning to reduce crowding at Parkside, Pleasant Hill elementary schools

The new attendance zoning will take effect in August when Tarvin Elementary, the district's 28th elementary school, opens.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

H-E-B will open a new location in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Southwest Austin in August. (Rendering courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B to open in Oak Hill in Aug.; comedy club coming to The Domain and more news from February

Read business and community news from the past month from Central Texas.

Jo's Coffee opened a North Austin location in January. (Courtesy Chad Wadsworth)
Jo's Coffee opens in Central Austin; new restaurant coming to Georgetown Square and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Here is a breakdown of what happened, how decisions were made and how vaccine distribution is moving forward in Williamson County.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

park rendering
Leander's Old Town Park to feature stage, water cannons, tower

City Council approved the park concept plan Feb. 23.

The 4ATX Foundation uses soccer to teach local kids life and leadership skills. (Photo courtesy Austin FC)
Austin’s new MLS team ramps up community work, engagement ahead of inaugural season

Before the team has even played a second of competitive play, Austin FC already has a handful of zealous supporters groups. Read here to find out who they are.

leander-boil-water
Leander lifts boil-water notice

Leander remains under Stage 4 water restrictions.

Williamson County is expecting two weeks' worth of COVID-19 vaccine doses after the winter storm delay. (Courtesy Pexels)
Williamson County expects double COVID-19 vaccine doses after winter storm delay

Officials said the county will prioritize individuals who were scheduled to receive a vaccine during the week of Feb. 15 before offering appointments to waitlisted individuals.