Politics & Government

New Macon-Bibb animal shelter opening weeks away

Even after the current quarantine ends at the Macon-Bibb County animal shelter, the dogs and cats held there will have weeks of waiting before moving into a new facility on Fulton Mill Road.

The longstanding plan was for the new building to be handed over complete to Macon-Bibb government on Dec. 27. But now there’s no firm date for the handover and move-in, said Clay Murphey, project manager.

“It’s substantially completed now, but we’re still waiting on the kennels, which are due here mid- to late-January,” he said.

The tentative plan is for Animal Welfare staff to move in mid-February, said Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb government spokesman.

The old shelter on 11th Street near the landfill was quarantined Thursday after a puppy died of highly contagious parvo. It’s expected to remain shut until Monday, after a visit from Georgia Department of Agriculture inspectors.

This is the shelter’s fourth quarantine in a year: the third for parvo, and a two-week quarantine in October for an unknown illness that resembled distemper. The closings required the euthanization of numerous puppies.

The special purpose local option sales tax that local voters approved in 2011 included $3 million for construction of a new shelter. In September, Macon-Bibb commissioners added $435,000, saved from other SPLOST projects, to pay for some shelter needs that had been cut from the original contract to save money.

Murphey said the time it took for that additional money to move through the commission slowed down some of the equipment purchase. Furniture and instruments for the new shelter’s surgical unit are being bought now, he said.

There’s still landscaping and some minor electrical work to be done, Floore said.

“We haven’t scheduled a date, because we don’t have some of those final pieces of equipment in yet,” he said.

The new shelter on Fulton Mill Road is nearly twice the size of the current 5,000-square-foot building, but it won’t hold any more animals. It’s designed to offer more services, be easier to clean and be more welcoming to encourage animal adoptions.

Assistant County Manager Steve Layson has been meeting with Animal Welfare staff on logistics for the coming move, Floore said.

There has not been a decision on whether to briefly stop taking in animals during the move, he said. If that’s done, those animals would be picked up immediately afterward. One possibility is to have both shelters briefly open at once, but that will depend on how many animals are on hand at the time and how many workers are available, Floore said.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.