Odessa city council to discuss $8.3 million animal shelter

The Odessa City Council will discuss whether to award an $8,308,472 contract to Onyx Contractors to oversee construction of a new city animal shelter during council’s virtual Tuesday work session.

If council approves the project, construction could begin later this year and be completed within one year, Police Chief Michael Gerke said. The current facility is too small and is 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 two or three 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 the 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.

Councilwoman Detra White recently said the new shelter is long overdue and very much needed. White was one of six council members who voted in favor of using certificate of obligation bonds dollars to pay for the project two years ago.

The current outdated facility has many problems, besides its small size, White said. 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.”

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, White said.

The new facility would have a room where veterinarians can perform surgeries, including spaying and neutering, Gerke said.

Gerke on Tuesday will also review with council city crime statistics for 2020-21.