Pflugerville working on immediate and long term animal shelter fixes

Pflugerville officials voted Dec. 9 to move forward with plans to make short-term fixes to the city's animal shelter and examine long-term solutions for the facility.

Improving the shelter in the near term, which could include rebuilding certain kennels and structures, adding new heating and air conditioning units, additional insulation, improvingoffice space and new asphalt for the parking lot, would cost about $334,000, according to plans created by Quorum Architects and presented at the Dec. 9 City Council meeting.

City staffers and an ad hoc animal shelter committee have been examining ways to shore up the animal facility for months after city officials withheld a proposed $8.1 million bond measure from the November ballot. The measure would have funded construction of a new animal shelter, but some council members and the mayor said the city did not have a solid plan to use the money at that time.

Since then city officials have worked to find a way to revamp the out-of-date animal shelter in the interim until a long-term solution is found. City Manager Brandon Wade said the city is inclined to create plans to build a new shelter on the east side of Lake Pflugerville that could be funded with a future bond measure. The current animal shelter could be given to the Parks and Recreation Department, he said.

Among other problems, the animal shelter does not have enough kennel space, lacks an isolation area for dogs and certain kennels no longer meet state standards, Assistant City Manager Trey Fletcher said. In addition to those immediate concerns, the animal shelter sits on an expansion-limiting flood plain and is in close proximity to a residential neighborhood.

While discussing the shelter renovations, councilmen Wayne Cooper and Brad Marshall expressed some concern about spending money on short-term improvements that would be lost if a new shelter is built.

"If we are really banking on the path of a new shelter, we want to avoid the throwaway money," Marshall said. "I'm just being overly sensitive to money that is only going to be used for three or four years, give or take."

David Duman, a principal with Quorum Architects, said about $100,000 worth of improvements, including the air conditioning units, could be moved to anew facility.

A vocal contingent of animal shelter volunteers attended the meeting and urged the city to dedicate money to improve the facility and build a new one. Among those pressing for the improvements was longtime shelter volunteer Lynn Vaughan.

Vaughan said she has seen improvements since she began volunteering in 2006, but more needs to be done.

"Because of limited space some people seeking to unload their pets at the facility are asked to return in a week," Vaughan said. "Those people could just release their pets nearby, and the animals might not be spayed or neutered."

"I dont think the problem with homeless pets is going to get better, Vaughan said.

Fletcher said the city could create plans for a new animal shelter and put a bond measure before voters by summer 2015.