KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP, MI – A spacious new $ 8.5 million Saginaw County animal care and control building will open here to four-legged tenants as well as human staff and visitors in December 2022, according to officials.
Crews are expected next month or September to begin construction on the Kochville Township-based facility, which will measure three times the size of the existing shelter at Saginaw.
“The idea is that this new building will accommodate cats and dogs better and serve staff better than the current site,” said Robert Belleman, County Comptroller of Saginaw.
“It will be very pleasing to the eye and in a convenient location for people who want to adopt a pet. It will be a safer and more conducive environment for animals and our staff than it is now. “
On June 28, the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners approved the building design and final budget for the facility, which the teams plan to build over the next 17 months on 7 acres of former farmland near Sam’s Club on Bay Road.
The news comes nearly three years after 52% of Saginaw County voters in August 2018 approved a renewal and a mileage increase – rising to 0.425 mills through 2037 – supporting the development of the new facility. In addition to the costs of purchasing the property and architecture, the project budget will total $ 10.5 million, Belleman said.
Today, the staff of the animal shelter works in a building at 1312 Gratiot in Saginaw. The structure was converted from a Rite Aid store in 1998 after Saginaw County purchased the building as it exited the Carrollton Township-based shelter headquarters, which literally began to sink in. in the ground. Staff say the Gratiot property has presented its own challenges in recent years, resulting in poor living conditions for the animals housed there.
“We’ve grown too big for this facility,” said Bonnie Kanicki, a 31-year-old retired Michigan State Police veteran who was hired as the shelter manager in 2019.
“I’m still facing repairs to keep us functional here, but my staff and I are happy to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are very excited about the progress made on the new building. “
Officials describe the planned Kochville Township property as a significant upgrade in both capacity and size.
The new facility will measure 23,000 square feet compared to the 7,680 square foot Gratiot structure. Dogs and cats will benefit from more space to walk and rest. Modern sewer ventilation and drainage systems will eliminate the challenges faced at the current head office. The space reserved for pet training sessions will engage the community. Additional resources for staff will provide improved medical care, including the additional ability to sterilize and sterilize animals.
Today, Saginaw County is sending animals to an All About Animals clinic in Flint as well as the Midland Humane Society for spaying and neutering.
The new facility will feature dog kennels to replace the current kennel setup which features rows of a cage stacked on top of each other, officials said.
“The way it is now, it’s annoying for the dogs and it’s difficult for the staff to lift the dogs – which sometimes weigh 60 pounds – in and out of the cages, which are 4 feet off the ground,” said Kanicki said. “It’s actually very sad.”
The new site’s “dog run” kennels will allow 10 feet of space to roam, officials said. No units will be stacked.
Staff will also provide dogs with access to nine enclosed outdoor yards that have more space than the four enclosed spaces outside the existing property, Kanicki said.
The added room to the Kochville Township building will reduce the noise level, which is cited as a main complaint on the Gratiot site, officials said. Housing so many dogs nearby can agitate the animals, causing them to bark close to each other, which can make them more agitated, Kanicki said.
Cats, on the other hand, will reside in Kanicki glass rooms called “cat condominiums”. There, the felines can play with their peers and climb carpeted pet towers together. Planners have designed the space surrounded by windows, which will expose the cats to more sunlight and views of the outdoors than is available in the current facility, she said.
The extra space to move will improve health conditions, reducing the spread of disease among dogs and cats, Kanicki said. An improved sewage drainage system for animals will also help with this effort.
“If a dog comes in with a kennel cough where we are today, it can spread around the building and cause us to stop adoptions for a period of time,” she said. “Parvo is another disease that can affect us here. The new building will provide us with a better ability to isolate and care for these animals. “
While the new facility will increase the capacity limit for cats from 40 to 100, the maximum number of dogs housed by Saginaw County will increase from 100 to 80 at the new site, Belleman said.
“However, we expect a high turnover rate for these animals; we won’t need space for as many of them as we currently have, ”he said.
Belleman said planners anticipate both the attractive design of the facility and the convenient location will increase the adoption rate.
“If you are closer to a retail environment, the adoption of dogs and cats will increase,” he said. “Right now, the current facility can be very difficult to find and reach. “
The new property is less than a mile north of the busy commercial intersection of Bay Road and Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw Township. The site is adjacent to DaVita Dialysis, 5641 Bay.
When completed, the shelter will be further from the road than most buildings in the surrounding neighborhood, reducing traffic noise, Kanicki said. Less noise equals a quieter environment for cats and dogs, she said.
The site will include space for an animal training room where staff will host community events, including pet safety education sessions, Kanicki said.
The parking lot will have around 80 spaces, officials said.
While county staffing levels at the new facility will likely remain the same, Belleman said he plans to continue a partnership with Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine that would provide students with experiential learning opportunities. in the settlement of the township of Kochville. There they would help full-time staff and volunteers take care of the animals.
“That’s our goal, although it might not happen for about a year after the building is constructed,” he said. “We hope that a partnership could provide these students with some experience in a shelter environment. “
Kanicki said she hopes to recruit students from Saginaw Valley State University and nearby Delta College to serve as volunteers, tasked with walking the dogs and keeping the cats company.
“It will be an engaging facility where the community around us can feel like ownership,” Kanicki said. “They were waiting for this. They deserve this.
A long time to come
The Saginaw County Council of Commissioners selected the new site in a close 6-5 vote in April 2020. A contingent of commissioners instead lobbied to relocate to a new space in the town of Saginaw. , but was outvoted by one.
The county purchased the new property for $ 172,500.
William A. Kibbe and Associates, Inc. of Saginaw is the prime contractor for the building design, with Blue Sky Architecture of Silverthorne, Colorado being selected as the subcontractor. Granger Construction of Lansing will work as the building construction manager.
Belleman said he expects crews to build the foundation and begin work on the site this year before stopping for a long break during the winter months, allowing time to wait 40 weeks for the arrival of steel. Shipment of equipment slowed considerably during the pandemic, he said.
He said long-term plans for the existing refuge remain uncertain.
“It can be useful or we can sell it,” Belleman said. ” We do not know yet. “
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