Town: Rebuilt or Relocated Animal Shelter At Least One Year Away

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Animal Control shelter at the Transfer Station. Credit: Michael Dinan

A project to rebuild or relocate New Canaan’s Animal Control shelter is at least one year away, town officials said this week.

The town is studying different possibilities for a future shelter, including use of a building at Kiwanis Park, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting Monday.

“The other thought that was if we were to remove the existing incinerator where it [the animal shelter] is currently housed, to then bring in a facility there,” Mann said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “Or, since it is a police function, possibly bringing it over to the Police Department. So we are looking at all options at present. If we were to take it down at the incinerator and want to put it back where it is, we can certainly bring in a modular structure there on the footprint that it houses already, and then place it somewhat back in its current location. So we are looking at it.”

The comments came in response to a question about the project from Committee member Stuart Sawabini.

Sawabini said he’s been approached by many people who have said that “if there is ever a capital campaign to do a renovation to the animal shelter, they want to participate and contribute to that capital campaign.

“So there may be some private funding that could be available while it’s a very top-of-mind topic for the community,” he said.

Sawabini added, “There is a very high level of interest from the community to provide some funding for it. So I don’t know what your timeframe might be—if it’s still a year out or six months out—but the iron is hot right now if we are hoping to take advantage of that.”

Mann said in response, “Any movement on bringing the building down and having to relocate them is at least a year out. So we have time in that regard. That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t be looking, and in fact we are looking at other alternatives to it. Westport had a very successful capital camping for their dog shelter, as well, so we would certainly like to partner if that’s a possibility.”

Flagged by Selectman Nick Williams in 2019, the condition of the existing shelter that New Canaan Police use to house stray or rescued pets re-emerged in November when authorities seized 12 neglected dogs, including 10 puppies, from a Butler Lane home. The town seeking to become full legal owner of the rescued dogs in an ongoing custody dispute, and some of the animals are being housed at the existing shelter, located in a former incinerator building at the dump.

Moynihan and Williams have been at odds regarding the adequacy of the existing shelter. Williams has called for the town to establish a fund so that those seeking to donate toward a new or refurbished shelters may do so. But Moynihan, after seeking to distance himself from the matter in December, pushed back again, saying at the most recent Board of Selectmen meeting the town must decide on a specific animal shelter project before establishing a fund for it.

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