At times it has become overcrowded, now - it's dilapidated; and authorities say the cost to keep the 25-year-old animal shelter in Brenham open is getting more expensive by the day. Shelter officials say it's time to rebuild, for the well-being of the stray pets. The first hurdle is finding enough money to start the million- dollar project.
Whether you live inside or outside the city limits; the population of Washington County is growing and the pet population is no exception.
“It's something we've known for the past few years,” said Brenham Police Chief Rex Phelps. “You can have a pet population that gets out of control; I mean, we spay and neuter animals here, we nurse them back to health and we try to find them good homes.”
The estimated 4,000 square foot Animal Shelter in Brenham has continued to see a trend over the last 25 years: too many surrenders and not enough adoptions.
“We shouldn't really hold more than about 40, but it's not unusual for us to hold about 70 a day,” added Phelps. “We try our best not to put any animal down, but if you have more animals, exponentially more animals than there are homes to give them, than that's just a bad situation for the animals, plus that leads to disease and rabies and that’s something you don't want in your community.”
According to the manager, in 2012 the facility took in approximately 1,609 abandoned and neglected animals.
“It got to the point to where the building is not only big enough, it's deteriorated," Phelps explained.
The new shelter would be seven-to-nine-thousand square feet; and cost anywhere from $1.5 to $2-million. Finding a location, and finding the funding has been a challenge.
"We're probably in this facility already two-to-three years longer than we originally desired, but again, funding is always the issue," said Phelps.
Chief Phelps said the animal shelter is one step closers to building the new facility -- that is after an anonymous individual donated $500,000 -- however that donation comes with one stipulation. The half a million dollar donation will stand just as long as the county and city of Brenham buy into a joint financial venture with the shelter.
“We've established an Animal Shelter Task Force of citizens; both county and city residents to drive this initiative,” said Phelps.
Finding the funding is the biggest hurdle; next in line is a location; but once approved, both will be just one more step towards a better future. City council members and city commissioner’s City council meeting 18th and commissioners meeting on April 22nd. Although an exact location has yet to be determined, the chief says the shelter is looking at the land near the police station.
If anyone is interested in donating to help build a new facility, you can either call the supervisor at the Donald G. Austin Memorial Animal Shelter located at: 2007 Old Chappell Hill Rd Brenham, TX 77833. You can call management to make donations at: (979) 337-7353.