Thursday, January 22, 2015

Temporary Animal Shelter Almost Ready

Sallisaw officials and employees have been working hard this week on a temporary solution to the emergency situation involving the condemning of the old animal shelter. They have been working to prepare a temporary animal shelter in the old barn on the property the city purchased for a new shelter on Eppler Avenue, but currently doesn't have sufficient funds to build.

Above, Sallisaw Police Chief Terry Franklin, center, Lee Risley, left, the city's parks superintendent, and Police Lt. Billy Oliver, right, construct one of eight kennels being built. Franklin said after learning the old animal shelter was condemned and judged unsafe to use at all, city officials decided to build the temporary shelter. Work began Monday and Franklin hopes the kennels will be complete by Friday. "Animal control has not ceased," Franklin said. "We are still issuing citations to dog owners found to be letting their dogs run loose." Franklin said all the city's departments have pitched in to help, including the parks, water, electric and street departments as well as officers with the police department. Materials from the old ball fields are being re-purposed for the kennels, along with some new materials. 

In the meantime the city is calling for new bids on a reduced-size animal shelter. The city set aside $100,000 for the new shelter, but bids sought earlier were far beyond the $100,000. At the city's last city commission meeting, city commissioners approved reducing the size of the planned shelter and calling for new bids which hopefully fall within the new budget requirements. The call for bids is expected to be announced within 30 days of the meeting.

The old shelter had been determined by engineers too dangerous to use, and was in such bad shape that city employees and the public were not allowed inside the building. Franklin said the city's animal control officer, Thomas Bridgewater, and his supervisor, Randy Freeman, found new homes for the dogs in the shelter at the time. Franklin said it is hoped the temporary shelter will be ready for use by Monday. In addition to the kennels, water and electricity have been installed in the building and the 20-foot by 32-foot newly built room in which the kennels are housed. Also, outdoor kennels were being built so the dogs could be outside in good weather while the kennels are cleaned. In the future, Franklin explained, when a permanent animal shelter is built, this temporary facility could possibly be used for cats in need of shelter. "We just stepped up and started building it," Franklin said. "We couldn't find anywhere to go and we made due with what we had." Franklin added that anyone who has lost a dog or who wants a new pet should contact the city just as they have done in the past, and an animal control officer will help them. "It's not about us," Franklin said, "It's about the whole community."

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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