With the League City Animal Shelter’s recent recognition as a no-kill facility, city officials broke ground Jan. 26 on the new League City Animal Care and Adoption Center they hope will increase adoption rates and involve the community more.

The new animal center will replace the existing shelter, which is outdated and cramped, city officials said.

As part of city officials’ and the community’s efforts, the League City Animal Shelter last year became a no-kill facility, which means it euthanizes less than 10 percent of its animals and only unadoptable ones, such as vicious or terminal animals. The shelter euthanized only 2 percent of animals taken in last year, according to shelter data.

Because the public knows League City’s shelter is a no-kill facility, residents from outside communities bring strays to League City, Animal Services Manager Kim Schoolcraft said.

“While I’d love to be able to take every animal in South Texas, we just can’t do it,” she said.

Police Chief Gary Ratliff, project manager for the new animal care center, said the existing facility is stressful for the animals and people who visit.

“It shouldn’t be that way,” he said.

The shelter was built in 1994 with 18 kennels and eventually expanded with an additional 24 kennels.

“It was already inadequate when they opened it,” Schoolcraft said.

The current shelter, totaling about 6,000 square feet, consists of two buildings—one for adoptable pets and another for stray animals—as well as a trailer for administrative tasks. Animal shelter employees are ready for a much-needed upgrade, Schoolcraft said.

Residents might not realize the minimum requirements for an animal shelter, from HVAC systems to flooring requirements, Ratliff said.

“It’s a specialty building,” he said.

The new facility will be about 13,000 square feet and will feature several upgrades, including a total of 64 kennels, a medical room to care for animals, a butterfly garden, bigger outdoor play areas, an outdoor “catio” for cats to lounge on, a small retail area to buy pet supplies, and more, officials said.

The new animal care center will also include a community room for education, group projects and other needs, Schoolcraft said.

“I emphasized I wanted this place to be as much for people as it is for animals,” she said.

The animal shelter depends on the community. More than 100 League City homes are registered as foster families and house about half of the shelter’s adoptable pets, Schoolcraft said.

The shelter has several programs that help socialize pets and provide them with human interaction to become more adoptable. Local pet stores hold adoption events every weekend to help the shelter reduce its stock of animals, Schoolcraft said.

The contractor has a year to complete the facility, but officials expect it will be open by fall. Construction costs are $4.3 million while the whole project totals about $7.5 million, Ratliff said.

When this process began, Ratliff and other officials toured animal shelters in other counties to find out what worked and what could be improved.

“Hopefully once this shelter is complete, it will be an example of what to build other shelters like,” he said.