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Speakers lobby for shelter on south end
Factors cited include distance, population
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Forsyth County News

What’s next

The next meeting of the Forsyth County Animal Shelter Committee is set for 6:45 p.m. July 20 in the Forsyth County Administration Building.

A local committee discussed features of a proposed animal shelter Tuesday night, but comments from some residents revived the question of where to build the facility.

In April, the five-member committee agreed to recommend a site on County Way, off Ga. 400 in north Forsyth.

Locating in or near Fowler Park was a close second option and the favorite of four people who spoke at the group’s meeting Tuesday.

Scot Rucker, owner of Rucker Pet, used his north and south Forsyth stores to demonstrate how a more southern spot, such as Fowler Park, could draw more traffic.

When his more south location holds adoption days, Rucker said three to five times more pets find families.

"I felt the same thing would happen with animal control if we put it down there," he said.

In a survey he sent to customers, more than 90 percent of the 226 respondents preferred a county-owned animal shelter be built at Fowler, which opened in February at Hwy. 9 and Castleberry Road.

Several speakers Tuesday said they would be more willing to visit or volunteer at a facility near the new park.

Resident Michael Decker, also a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, said a south Forsyth site would open the potential for student work, research and perhaps grant funding.

Veterinarian Debbie Decker said the higher concentration of vets near Fowler would allow for more "symbiotic relationships" to help out at the facility.

The shelter committee did not revisit the location issue following the comments.

The group did agree in its original decision that the location would not be final until the facility specifications are sent out for a design bid.

Recapping their recent visit to the Gwinnett County animal shelter, Forsyth’s committee members discussed some needs for the future facility.

Showers for staff members, an on-site incinerator, a port for trucks and an education room were all features from Gwinnett that the group wants to include here.

Some additional considerations included dividers between dog runs, a covered outdoor area and an X-ray machine.

Once the committee gathers its final list of needs, those specifications will be provided to an architect as the basis of design for a facility.

"Remember, our budget’s going to be half what theirs was," Commissioner Todd Levent told his fellow committee members.

The committee has estimated it will take about $2.9 million to cover the construction of the facility. The cost could be paid for through a proposed extension of the 1-cent sales tax.

A referendum on the issue could go before voters as early as November.

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt advised the group that the number of animals taken in will be an important determination for the building’s size.

Numbers from the current county shelter show that about 2,900 animals entered in 2010, compared to nearly 9,000 at Gwinnett’s shelter.