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Another animal shelter addition among changes approved by commissioners

More changes are coming to the Rowan County Animal Shelter following Monday’s Rowan County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Commissioners on Monday accepted parts of a nonprofit’s offer to expand the animal shelter and approved a contract with Lazy 5 Ranch Veterinary Services for spay and neuter services.

Commissioners questioned the speed at which nonprofit Shelter Guardians could complete a proposed new wing for dogs. The contract, however, passed quickly after a small, technical change and brief statement from Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds.

Monday’s votes come after commissioners have already approved a volunteer program, $10 increase in adoption fees to pay for vaccines and a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats.

Spay and neuter services are scheduled to start before any new additions to the shelter — a cat wing expansion is already underway — but Shelter Guardians’ proposed project would result in more visible changes.

During a presentation, Shelter Guardians board members Nina Dix and Jon Palmer — an architect — proposed building an intake room onto the existing shelter building; a 63-kennel dog wing; and helping convert the existing building to only handle sick, court, or bite cases. It would be called Project Canine, Palmer said.

The nonprofit group would pay for the project’s entire cost, Palmer said. The group didn’t request any money from county government. Instead, Shelter Guardians would need the county to donate land for the project, he said. When construction wraps up, the nonprofit group would donate the building to Rowan County government.

It would be similar to a cat wing that’s currently under construction. Philanthropist Christine Morykwas is paying for the entire cost of the cat wing and donating the building to Rowan County.

Palmer said he couldn’t provide exact estimates about the entire project’s cost. Shelter Guardians, however, hasn’t raised the entire amount necessary to proceed with all parts of the project immediately, according to Dix and Palmer.

Dix said the group has waited to get an approval from county commissioners before formally starting its fundraising effort.

The lack of immediately available funds led Commissioner Craig Pierce to question whether the county should commit to providing land to Shelter Guardians. The same commissioners might not comprise the board when Shelter Guardians raises the necessary amount of money, Pierce said. He specifically questioned how long it would take for Shelter Guardians to start construction on the 63-kennel dog wing.

“I realize this is a very long-reaching project, and I appreciate you taking this on,” he said. “The concern I have is that you’re asking for us to guarantee you property. Since we don’t have a time frame of when this large building will be constructed, I think it would be inappropriate to tie up a board down the road to make that commitment.”

It wasn’t mentioned during Monday’s meeting, but Morykwas previously offered to foot the bill for a dog wing after her current expansion project.

Commissioner Mike Caskey proposed putting a time limit on the county’s commitment. In a motion, Caskey proposed commissioners work with Shelter Guardians on the 63-kennel dog wing for one year. It passed unanimously.

Commissioners didn’t express hesitation about allowing Shelter Guardians to proceed with an intake room. The nonprofit already has money set aside for that project, according to Palmer.

When considering the contract for veterinary services, County Manager Aaron Church suggested changing the agreement to reflect the fact that Lazy 5 would provide post-surgical notes for adopted animals. If the adoptive family can’t reach the veterinary clinic in time to pick up the animal, then the animal shelter would provide a note, Church said.

Veterinary services would be provided for all adopted animals.

Commissioners approved the contract. Edds then thanked Commissioner Craig Pierce for his work with the animal shelter.

“This is a big part of the overall plan for the animals in Rowan County,” Edds said. “This will help reduce the total number of animals.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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