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Shelter committee hears from experts
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Forsyth County News

 

The Forsyth County Animal Control & Shelter Committee did its homework at a Tuesday meeting.

The committee, tasked with planning a county-owned animal shelter, heard from a couple people who work in the field.

Mike Ledford, director of animal services for neighboring Hall County, shared his experiences with starting a county-owned shelter a couple years ago.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Lt. David Waters, head of animal control in the county, also offered insight.

The Hall shelter opened in late 2009, after a fallout in the previous situation led to a need to build quickly, Ledford said.

Though Hall didn’t have the time to plan its shelter, he praised Forsyth County for taking that step.

“I think you guys, by the way, have the right idea taking the time, making sure this is what you want to do and how you want to do it,” he said.

In Forsyth, the commissioners recently approved the committee’s recommendation for the county to build and operate its own facility.

The details remain for the committee to sort out.

Ledford shared Hall’s operating statistics and also discussed some of its successes and challenges.

Finding quality employees to publicize the shelter and some dedicated volunteers were some of Ledford’s key suggestions.

He also discussed some of the kennels, cleaning systems and education programs that have worked.

Some pitfalls in Hall have included a small lot and inadequate installation of certain systems.

Ledford pointed to the Gwinnett County shelter as a great success. It provides plenty of separation to prevent the spread of disease and has a strong relationship with the public.

“It’s the ideal model for a shelter, but it’s $6.5 million,” he said.

Hall spent about $1.35 million building its shelter.

At last estimate, Forsyth expected to pay between $2 and $2.5 million.

Funding for the construction of the shelter is expected to be the prime topic of discussion at the committee’s next meeting March 21.

The group plans to make its funding recommendation to bring to the county commission March 22.

The committee will also work toward finalizing its top choices for a location.

In speaking with Waters on Tuesday, the committee focused on what sites could be beneficial.

Waters selected sites on County Way, off Ga. 400 in north Forsyth, and on Canton Hwy., just outside the city limits, as his top two picks.

His primary factors were proximity to a county fuel station and the county’s north end, where more animal control calls occur.

Waters said in 2010, the county's four animal control officers took more than 1,000 animals to the shelter. Most were cats and dogs, though there were some pigs, horses and even a parrot and emu.

Waters noted that a facility to hold large or unusual animals may be worth considering.

The committee concluded its meeting by reviewing some of the plans submitted by firms when the county requested proposals in 2009.