The Spokane region’s new $5.7 million animal shelter opened recently with an official “leash cutting” ceremony.
Saturday’s event brought to a close nearly seven years of planning and debate by city and county governments on how to improve and consolidate animal control services.
“We’ve been working on it for so many years, it’s almost surreal,” said Nancy Hill, director of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.
Eight participating cities along with Spokane County are helping fund the construction and ongoing operation of the facility. At the start of the year, SCRAPS began providing animal control services to the city of Spokane, taking over from the nonprofit group SpokAnimal CARE.
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SCRAPS’ new facility, 6815 E. Trent Ave., is located in a two-story converted retail space that previously housed a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership.
The 30,000-square-foot building underwent a year of renovation. It replaces an 11,500-square-foot building on Flora Road in northeast Spokane Valley.
The facility was designed to be more welcoming than a typical animal shelter. The entry area is spacious and airy. Large photos of cats and dogs adorn an upper area above the new “cat mall” where felines lounge in their new cages. A community room is to the left. A pet store is to the right, and beyond that are the dog kennels.
The “Bow Wow Meow Market” is selling donated pet items to raise money for SCRAPS’ medical care fund for animals.
It has areas for potential pet owners to get acquainted with animals, including six outdoor cages for dog introductions. SCRAPS still plans to build a leashed outdoor dog-walking area behind the property.
Cats lounge in stacked cages that provide a separate hygienic cubicle for their litter boxes.
There are separate holding facilities for premature kittens, barn cats, aggressive dogs and dogs that need behavior modification.
Hill said SCRAPS is trying to expand its volunteer effort to care for kittens born prematurely.
“We have so many neonates we are trying to build our foster program,” she said.
Each of the pods is separated by doorways and walls with independent air-handling systems so the pods can be sealed off to contain any potential airborne infection.
The building provides larger rooms for grooming, medical exams and temperament testing. Animals are offered for adoption after they meet the staff’s standards for suitability.
A new kitchen allows room to prepare meals — a mix of dry and wet food – in stainless steel bowls that can be washed and sterilized quickly.
An upstairs call center is staffed by several workers who work with clients and dispatch enforcement officers to complaints.
Separate entries were built into the facility for donations and pet drop-offs.
Staff members have lockers and changing rooms.
“There’s room for everybody,” said volunteer Sandy Duffy.
Hill said the interior design is based on best practices from around the country. ALSC Architects of Spokane worked with Bacon Group Architecture, a Florida group specializing in animal care.
The building and its 3-acre parcel cost $1.7 million. Conversion costs escalated from an estimated $2.3 million to about $4 million because of unforeseen costs, including fire sprinklers, air handling systems, an adequate power supply and water service.
County commissioners have agreed to provide additional funds from real estate excise tax to cover any shortfall in the project’s 20-year budget.
A $250,000 bequest from the late Mary Mitchell, a longtime animal advocate, helped finance the animal care portion of the project, Hill said.
The former SCRAPS facility is owned by the county road department, which is considering a land swap for the property, Hill said.
SCRAPS has 35 full-time employees, 15 part-time employees and about 250 volunteers. Hill said new volunteers are always welcome.