Glynn County’s current animal control shelter has a lot of issues, all of which a new $3.5 million facility is intended to address.
“It’s always wet out here,” said Tiffani Hill, animal control manager. “The snakes have been really bad out here because of how swampy it’s been.
“The ground is never dry, and if it rains all afternoon it’s pretty much too swampy to even use the play area. You can’t park on any of the grass, you’d have to tow it back out.”
Tucked back into a wooded area off U.S. 17, bugs, rats and snakes are common sights especially after an extended rain. Due to the low-lying ground and surrounding woods, humidity tends to linger and the area rarely gets a breeze.
That’s not Hill’s only complaint with the shelter. She once described the building and accompanying kennels as being held together with bubble gum and duct tape.
Space is scarce in the facility, so the county brought in a double-wide trailer to house administrative offices and dedicated space for the surgery area, which created needed storage and quarantine space in the central building.
The floors aren’t sealed, which makes disease control much harder than it needs to be in the dog kennels.
“Where there is grouting or cracking or any way diseases can get into the flooring, there’s no guarantee that the disinfectant will reach and kill them and prevent them from coming back out and reinfecting,” Hill said.
Far from sealed, the current kennel floor is crumbling, she said. The building is not rated to withstand strong storms, meaning the shelter evacuates for nearly every major weather event. Its relatively isolated location has led to several people abandoning their pets at the compound with no consequences. Officers answering late-night calls is another concern.
“As a female officer, it’s pretty scary to drop off animals when we get a call in the middle of the night,” Hill said.
The new shelter will occupy a corner of the county’s public safety complex off the Ga. 25 Spur, just north of Interstate 95 exit 38. Being less isolated from other facilities and near law enforcement makes sense from a safety perspective, she said.
Its proximity to the county police and fire department headquarters is something Hill hopes will address another problem her department regularly deals with — abandoned dogs.
“We have people tie animals to the fence or push them through the gate (at the current location),” she said.
Those are simply the individually identifiable solutions, she said. The U.S. 17 shelter is also operating past its capacity, creating the need for the trailer on the property.
The new shelter’s layout is conducive to better safety and cleanliness, more efficient use of space and a logical arrangement of offices, storage, intake and medical areas, she said.
“The way it’s laid out we can block off dogs in bite quarantine,” Hill said. “We can also close off dogs and cats that need to be isolated for some contagious conditions as we treat them.”
A sturdier structure would mean fewer evacuations to the county’s temporary shelter in Waycross for relatively small weather events.
“That’s really hard to do with 120 to 150 animals,” Hill said.
As for what happens to the old shelter, the county has made no final decision.
The shelter came in at around $3.5 million, well over the original $1.5 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016 line item. Commissioners committed to moving ahead with construction in January and approved a construction contract earlier this month.