County considers new home for Animal Control kennels

by Kate Shunney

Tight quarters for dogs and a failing well at the Morgan County Animal Control facility on Martinsburg Road have prompted the county to consider building a new kennel and Animal Control office near the old 911 center.

Commissioners talked about the proposal at their October 20 meeting, but opted not to make a final decision yet. Commissioner Bill Clark expressed interest in visiting the proposed site and looking closer at the plans.

Animal Control officer Ivory Brown told commissioners that county kennels hold, on average, between six and 12 dogs at a time.

“It’s a really cramped facility,” she said. Brown reminded commissioners that kennels don’t have dog runs directly off each holding area. That means Animal Control officers have to take each dog out individually to exercise and run, which is an important part of keeping them calm while they are in the county’s care.

Brown said the well for the current Animal Control building – a two-story house along Martinsburg Road – runs dry periodically.

“Water is one of our biggest issues,” she told commissioners.

County Administrator Stefanie Allemong said there’s “no rhyme or reason” for why the well runs dry at certain times.

Allemong said the house that serves as the Animal Control office now needs “a lot of work”. At one time, the county allowed the Animal Control officers to live in that house as part of their compensation for the job.

Instead of putting money into repairs and redigging a well, the county is considering moving Animal Control operations to county-owned parcels of land behind the old 911 center, at the edge of The Pines property. Those lots extend down into the woods, said Allemong.

Under the proposal, the county would have constructed a 24x20x12 kennel metal building that would include offices, grooming areas and an isolation room. Ten outdoor kennels would  lead out to dog runs. Offices could be put in the old 911 center if needed, said Allemong.

The building, excavation and fencing are expected to cost roughly $55,000.

Allemong noted those cost estimates were gathered last year, so they may have changed.

She said county staff has talked about privacy fencing and tree planting to try and keep the dog kennels “secluded” and reduce noise in the area.

Commission President Joel Tuttle said noise from barking dogs has been one of the top concerns over the years about the current Animal Control facility, which is next to several homes.

Tuttle said noise is still a concern at any location.

Commissioners were expected to revisit the Animal Control proposal at their meeting today, November 3.

County officials are considering moving Animal Control operations to the area near the old 911 center and The Pines.