The nearly 10-year-old effort to build a new city animal shelter came a big step closer to completion today, when the Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved the use of $170,000 in capital improvement funds to retrofit an old vehicle emissions station on St. Louis's north side to safely and humanely house animals.
"Thanks to E&A for approving Phase II of our animal control plan. Special thanks to @2ndwardflowers [Ald. Dionne Flowers] for making the plan better," Mayor Francis Slay tweeted after the E&A meeting today.
"We will continue to listen, we will continue to evaluate, and if we need a phase 3 improvement, I'll bring that back to the Board of Aldermen," Walker said today after the meeting.
Slay closed the old facility on Gasconade to the public in July 2010, transferring all but dangerous and bite dogs to the non-profit Stray Rescue. That partnership will continue with the new shelter, which will enable the city to comply with the animal care standards that take effect in January.
In addition to providing money for the retrofit, E&A also gave health director Pamela Rice Walker permission to shift money in her budget to hire staff for the shelter, as well as a public information officer.
Walker calls those critical parts of the city's efforts to treat animals more humanely and enforce current laws.
"It will allow me to put my animal control officers on the street 100 percent of their time, instead of in the shelter cleaning up cages or caring for the animals," she said.
Walker said the city is still negotiating the lease price with the owner of the building, at Florissant and Interstate 70. She says she hopes to get into the building about two months after the lease is signed.
At least one aldermen had expressed concerns about the location of the new shelter, which is near a YWCA Head Start preschool. Walker says the entire lot will be surrounded by an eight-foot-tall fence, and any places where the dogs are outside will have a second fence.