The town’s Animal Control shelter—which occupies about 800 square feet in a non-insulated former incinerator building at the dump—is not suitable to house dogs and other animals, Selectman Nick Williams said Tuesday.
Given that the shelter soon will need a new roof, which officials estimate will cost $75,000 to $80,000, New Canaan should plan for an improved future facility or to outsource the care of lost or dumped animals, Williams said during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting.
“To be clear, we are talking about maybe 50, 60, 70 animals a year going in there—it’s not high usage but it’s also not a great place to keep animals,” Williams said.
The building’s “only use is as an animal shelter, which is a dump,” he said.
“A dump within a dump—I’m sorry, a dump within a ‘Transfer Station,’ ” Williams said.
Saying he wanted to raise the issue prior to the next budget season, he added, “If we can knock that thing down, which has no use whatsoever other than storing animals, and then do something a bit nicer for our animals.”
The comments came during a discussion of general matters before the town.
Asked why the building wasn’t knocked down when it no longer served as an incinerator, Public Works Director Tiger Mann said town officials at the time, considering the cost, thought it was “not causing any harm” so they “let it sit there.”
“It’s suitable for its purposes but there could be a better facility” for the animals, Mann said.
He added, “It’s not the best location for it,” referring to the New Canaan Police Department Animal Control shelter.
The former Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee in its December 2017 report said that the facility is “adequate, if basic” and that “a location that provided office space for the Control Officers, as well as an outdoor run, would be an improvement.”
Officials have said the shelter is not designed for the long-term care of animals, though thanks to the generosity of a local Girls Scouts Troop the facility has seen upgrades in recent years, including the purchase of a dryer and fencing to create a “meet-n-greet” pen out front. Two winters ago, a failed heat pump forced a temporary closure of the building.
Williams said that Officer Allyson Halm, head of Animal Control, is “wonderful” but that the shelter is in “a depressing location, for human beings and, presumably, for dogs and other animals.”
Selectman Kit Devereaux noted that towns such as Darien outsource their animal shelter operations “because there are not attendants with them for lengths of time.”
Regarding the future of the building, Mann said it would be “up to Animal Control to determine the best use.”
“Our feeling was that before we continue to spend money on a building, to see what its end use would be,” Mann said. “What its use is now and what its end use would be and and how much it would cost us over time, and whether or not it would be more cost effective to tear it down and find another location.”