Plans for $1.4 million animal shelter presented

Plans for a new 6,000-square-foot Shelton Animal Shelter are drafted and it will be up to Shelton voters on Nov. 6 to approve spending the $1.4 million to build the new facility on city-owned property, near the intersection of Riverdale Avenue and Brewster Lane.

The Shelton Animal Shelter Building Committee, appointed by the mayor six years ago, presented the proposal during a Board of Aldermen Finance Committee meeting last Thursday. The preliminary plans have been made by Bismark Construction of Milford and follow modern trends and regulations for animal shelters, according to the building committee.

The current animal shelter, which is about 1,200 square feet and down the road on Riverdale Avenue, has a number of structural issues and problems that have been cited by state inspectors.

The proposed facility includes 30 enclosed kennels and a small cat room. The current city shelter doesn’t accept cats.

“We wanted a facility that is safe and secure for lost and stray dogs, that is capable for promotion and handling of pet adoption and help in education of pet overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering,” Gerry Craig, chair of the building committee told aldermen. “We are quite proud of the project and we feel we have achieved our goals and in an effective and cost-efficient manner.”

Gregory Raucci, president of Bismark Construction, presented the facility plans. Raucci thanked Public Works Director Paul DiMauro for using city resources to help with site work at the proposed shelter location, which cut costs for the city.

“This would have cost $3 million if not for that,” Raucci said. “If I was a taxpayer of Shelton I would be proud we are getting a big bang for our buck.”

The shelter would be set back from the road, with a front entrance that is designed to fit in with the residential area. The shelter would be fenced in and have a dog run for strays and lost pets to play in. The profile of the building is also being kept low, so neighbors to the back wouldn’t be looking out at a shelter but over it.

Enclosed kennels are now common in Northeast shelters, Raucci said. The enclosed kennels also mean less noise for nearby neighbors and keeping out diseases and pests like ticks and fleas.

The kennel would have windows, since studies show that dogs in enclosed spaces with no visual distraction can get what’s called “kennel rage,” Craig said. A quarantine area would have separate ventilation system from the rest of the kennel, to prevent spread of any viruses.

The kennel would have an epoxy floor that is easy to clean. The plans include a central sanitary washer that would allow the shelter employees to hose down the facility in order to keep it sanitary.

The front of the building would include a 162-square-foot room for cats, a grooming area that can also serve as a place for animal medical treatment, office space, food storage and more. The building committee was particularly excited about an education room and adoption room.

“People have a real problem with going to a shelter for animals,” Craig said. “They don’t always realize that rather than go to a breeder they can find a perfectly good pet that is healthy and will be grateful.”

Part of the problem can be people feeling overwhelmed by walking through a kennel filled with dogs that need a home. In the adoption room, a person can look through a directory of animals available and then choose which ones they would like to meet, one-on-one.

“If you want to see something that will be like ours, visit the Stratford Animal Shelter,” Craig said. “We took a lot of ideas from them.”

The Stratford shelter has cost $3.5 million.

The building committee said it has taken input from Animal Control Officer Sheryl Taylor and incorporated her suggestions into the plan. With the new, larger facility, the city may want to consider hiring another staff member, according to Raucci.