Austin, Mower County Humane Society plan for joint shelter effort move forward
The Austin City Council directed staff Monday to continue working with the Mower County Humane Society in developing a joint animal shelter with the city of Austin.
The plan is for a development agreement between the two entities for a site near the airport, just off the intersection of U.S. 218 and Oakland Avenue East. With Marian Clennon absent, the council unanimously voted during Monday's work session to proceed with a development agreement that council will vote on on Oct. 15.
The other option was to have the humane society build on its own site and have the city shelter relocated to another place. The site near the airport for the joint effort was identified and presented to the council in June. Each entity would have its own building with this plan and the two would share a parking lot.
"This really has been a long time coming," said council member-at-large Janet Anderson.
The humane society has acquired the land and has had a preliminary plat completed and application submitted for review by the Planning Commission.
Many factors listed as "pros" for the joint effort were outlined in a memo from city staff to the mayor and city council. Some of the pros include:
• The shared site would increase public awareness and provide easier access, and it would eliminate confusion between the city shelter and the humane society when searching for lost animals.
• The humane society takes in about 80 percent of all dogs picked up by the city. The humane society would eliminate time-consuming and unsanitary conditions in vehicles for volunteers and community service officers.
• Side-by-side structures would improve owner reclamation rates by allowing pet owners to search both facilities nearly simultaneously. It would also eliminate running back and forth between facilities for community service officers and humane society volunteers.
• The humane society sees a benefit by having added security near the facility on a more frequent basis than simply when volunteers are present. It could reduce the likelihood of people dumping animals or vandalizing.
• Sharing resources between organizations would be easier, including equipment, non-prescription medications, advice, pet traps, leashes and collars.
• The two facilities could build a better relationship, work together on the animal adoption process, have better communications and share parking.
• The shared facilities also would help eliminate traffic at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, where the city shelter is now.
"The pros definitely outweigh the cons on this project," said Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger.