Animal shelter construction underway

Jul. 23—With the current Odessa Animal Shelter showing its age, city officials were finally able to break ground on a new facility during a ceremony Friday morning.

The new animal shelter will be located right next to its current location at 910 West 42nd Street.

"We're thankful for our previous and current council to get us to this point," Assistant City Manager Phillip Urrutia said. "It has been a long process to go through the design and construction. We have about a year of construction that'll take place. We're going to look forward to that being a good construction and get this great facility to the public."

It's a vision that's been in the works for about five years.

"Through that was locating the funding, the land and the design and now we're able to get the construction going," Urrutia said.

The current shelter is close to 45 years old and Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said that at that age, the building has developed some plumbing issues as well as issues with the structure itself.

"You also have to remember that the current shelter was created more as a pound," Gerke said to those in attendance during the ceremony. "(It was) a place for stray animals to be taken to for a short amount of time to allow owners a chance to reclaim them. ... The business model of that shelter has changed. The goal today is to release as many animals that are taken in as possible through reclaims and adoptions. The new shelter will be larger to allow for more animals as they wait to be adopted or reclaimed. We'll have medical facilities for the vets to perform spayed or neuter that will help reduce the stray population in our community and be a much better working environment."

The new shelter is expected to be 20,538 square feet. The cost of the construction of the shelter alone is $8.5 million, Urrutia said.

"It did come within budget and our price for this shelter is within the budget as we said but it's also comparable to other facilities that we've seen in our area," Urrutia said. "We're pleased to have a good budget on this project and to start construction."

The construction is expected to last a year, barring any significant weather delays such as the winter storm from this past February.

"Obviously, there are things that can be thrown in like another snow apocalypse like we had this year," Gerke said. "Mother nature steps in and causes delays. But it's roughly a year and what that includes is this building and a partial tear down of the old facility."

Another item that Gerke pointed out about the new shelter is the culmination of a lot of work that is going into it.

"Moving forward and ahead, you can look at the old shelter and compare it to the renderings of the new shelter (and) it's night and day," Gerke said. "We're going to have a facility that provides great housing and a great working environment for our city employees and it's going to be a facility that citizens can be proud of."

City councilwoman Detra White also gave a few remarks during the ceremony.

"With this new shelter, what my vision is, is that we're going to have a place that this will be the first place people come when they want to find a new pet," White said. "When they need a new pet for their home, they are going to be comfortable bringing their family here. This is an expensive project but it's not just for the animals that are brought in but also for our community where people can either find their lost pet or to adopt a new one."

She also recognized the shelter volunteers and employees.

"I want to thank them for that service to our community," White said. "They have a love for these animals and they want the best for them."

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