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.”
I’m in complete agreement and I’m sure others who work in animal care as well as everyone who has a furry family member think the same. We can do better for lost and abandoned animals in New Canaan and I’m willing to help in whatever way necessary.
Seems like a perfect opportunity and time to look into sharing this municipal service with neighboring towns; maybe this is the ‘ outsourcing’ that Nick referred to. And there are other services New Canaan should be looking at to ‘ share’ as well= saving money.
That sounds horrifying. For a town that values its pets, surely we can do better. I’ve had a couple of wandering dogs that were picked up, and to think that’s where they ended up. At minimum, show us some photos and give us a tour so that those townspeople who are interested can provide some comfort to the animals who are held in what sounds like a prison. Is there running water? Outdoor facilities? Does the town have a microchip scanner? I don’t know if this still applies, but many years ago our two rogue dogs had to spend the night in the town doggie jail as there was no access after normal business hours. Is that still the case? I am also willing to help.
There are many animal-loving residents in this town who would be than more than willing to help with this initiative. Reach out to us for ideas for public/private partnership. What about one of the many town-owned buildings?
Surely our lovely town can do whatever it takes to provide a healthy environment for the animals that need temporary shelter and care. I’ve been in the facility in question and it is abysmal both for animals and humans. Dreadfully cold and depressing. Out-sourcing to a reputable vet facility or shelter is most likely the better choice — for financial and maintenance reasons. Thank you to our Girl Scouts and these residents offering to help! Please let me join you. Let’s DO THE RIGHT THING.
LOVE the idea of building a new structure, and completely agree that the wonderful animal loving NC residents would help fund this! Is there a way to fast track finding a location, getting a design together and estimated cost? Then we could start a fundraising campaign and I’m confident there would be significant donations pouring in quickly! We would definitely contribute!
Thank You Nick — I for one would give to this campaign — but
question out out the 50 60 70 animals per yr — what happens to them ?
if we do this we should have a NO kill policy
Thank you all for your support! As the owner of a golden retriever (Bailey) and a rescue cat (Bandit), this is an issue I feel strongly about.
I think the idea of a public-private partnership is a wonderful approach – it’s certainly worked very well in town with other initiatives, such as the Waveny Park Conservancy and the New Canaan Athletic Foundation. It never ceases to amaze me just how generous our town residents are . . . .
I have been in discussions with members of our terrific Department of Public Works, who are supportive of my efforts given that we need to address the serious deterioration of the incinerator building in which the shelter is housed. They are in the process of gathering pertinent facts and figures and I’m hopeful that they will be back to me in the next few weeks.
In the meantime I’d be delighted to hear from you individually and to discuss your thoughts in more detail. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get this done!
Many thanks again,
The more we keep building the more taxes go up – and the problem here is that most of the people saying build will move out of this town as soon as there kids are out of the high school anyways.