Jacksonville will use $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to renovate its animal shelter.
Mayor Jeff Elmore said that projects at the baseball fields came in $215,000 under budget, allowing the city to draw up new plans for the shelter.
“We’ll still have a few more dollars to work from for other projects following [this],” he added.
The Jacksonville City Council agreed on reallocating the money at a meeting on Sept. 21.
Lt. Ryan Wright, who has taken over as director of the shelter, said a few projects have already been completed.
The floors were stripped and buffed, the old cat room was converted to a cage-free play space and the manager’s office now has room to include the other Animal Control officers in a “community-like” setting.
“The old Animal Control office has been transitioned to a meet and greet room for people to get acquainted with a future pet without being distracted from the lobby area,” Wright added.
A new monitor will be installed in the lobby to showcase the shelter’s animals available for adoption and monthly events put on by the Animal Control Officers.
“We’re in the process of removing all of our wood-based stands and replacing the metal stands to prevent the spread of [canine parvovirus],” Wright said.
The shelter plans to use the federal funds for:
A complete renovation of the old cement building behind the shelter.
Pest control solutions for the current building.
Rebuilding rooms with modern aesthetic metal.
Additional meet and greet rooms in the main lobby.
A pet pantry room in the main lobby.
Nine new kennels.
Intake rooms for new stray animals.
Veterinary and surgery room for onsite spay and neuter surgeries.
Separate quarantine room for cats and dogs.
New laundry and bathing room.
New storage room.
Wright said that for the first time since January of last year, the shelter is under capacity.
“We have six kennels open for the dogs right now and no dogs have been euthanized,” he said. “Citizens have stepped up and adopted, the social media presence has increased and I think all of that is benefitting getting the animals out.”
Elmore said the federal funds will be used to complete a “total gut job” of the original building behind the shelter to rebuild everything inside.
Wright said that while the renovation is being done, new incoming dogs can be housed in the outside kennels if need be, but the shelter’s goal is to remain under capacity.
Christine Henderson, president of Jacksonville Friends of the Animals nonprofit, said that Home Depot has granted the shelter $4,000 for fence lumber and supplies to build new outdoor parks for dogs.
“Fencing in that back range, at this point, that’s going to be a waste of space and money,” Wright said. “You’ve got a whole run on the right that is humongous that can be broken down before we have to worry about going back there.”
Police Chief Brett Hibbs agreed that he’d rather split up the current dog park with new fences for dogs to have their own areas to play.
Hibbs said his goal is for the renovations to be done by the end of this year.