The Odessa City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to approve an $8,308,472 contract with Onyx Contractors to oversee construction of a new city animal shelter.
Police Chief Michael Gerke explained during last week’s work session that the current facility is too small and not equipped to provide the care needed.
“The current facility was built as a pound over 30 years ago,” said Gerke, whose department oversees shelter operations. “It was built to house dogs and cats for 2-3 days and then they were euthanized.
“But things have changed. We’re asking for a facility that’s more conducive to adopting.”
The proposed new 20,538-square-foot facility, which will be constructed just east of the current shelter, would be paid for with funds from certificate of obligation bonds that council approved in 2019, according to city documents. The $10 million earmarked for the new animal shelter was part of an overall $93 million bond that is being used for other projects also.
The new shelter will cost about $1.7 million less than originally projected, Gerke told council last week.
Mayor Javier Joven last week asked city administrators if the leftover $1.7 million could be used to help pay for other infrastructure projects, such as renovating the city’s aging water treatment plant.
Assistant City Manager of Administrative Services Cindy Muncy explained that the bond dollars can legally only be used for what they were originally planned for; in this case a new animal shelter and fire station.
If approved by council, the new animal shelter would be constructed just east of the current shelter, Gerke said.
Because of the current shelter’s limited space, many dogs and cats that arrive have to be euthanized immediately because there isn’t space to keep them separated from the rest of the animals, Gerke explained.
A larger, more modern facility would be able to house more cats and dogs and allow for more adoption opportunities and provide better care for the animals, he said.
Councilwoman Detra White has previously expressed concern that the current, outdated facility has many problems, besides its small size. The facility is plagued with ongoing plumbing problems and lacks an adequate cooling system, which makes the shelter very hot and humid most of the year.
“I know we’re talking about a lot of money,” White said. “But we’re not talking about building a Taj Mahal for dogs and cats.
“We’re talking about building a new shelter that has more room, that’s animal and people friendly, and promotes adoption.”