County canine kennel put on hold

Plans for a permanent Auglaize County dog shelter are still in the works but construction will be delayed until funding is available, the Auglaize County commissioners told the Auglaize County dog warden.

“We are still evaluating the plans and cost,” Commissioner Doug Spencer told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “We know that there is a definite need for the project, however, we have to determine if the benefits exceed the cost, and if they do, how does the dog and kennel fund pay for it. If it doesn’t, we have to figure out what another option is to house dogs for the dog warden.”

Spencer said he didn’t know when a decision may be made, but they may not make the decision until the renovations at the Auglaize County Courthouse are complete, which is expected to be early this summer.

He said unfortunately, the need for a new dog kennel in the county has only continued to increase as time passes.

During a meeting this week, the commissioners told Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey they didn’t want to do is construct a subpar building — one that is minimal in size and features and that the project cannot be reduced in scope to save money from the orginially proposed kennel.

Bailey said he took in 305 dogs during 2011, which is a slight increase from 2010, but he’s anticipating even more of an increase now that his department will be picking up dogs throughout the city of Wapakoneta for a full year in 2012.

He said it was a noticeable difference when mid-year in 2011 they took over responsibilities for the city’s dogs which were no longer being handled by the Auglaize County Humane Society.

Trustees from the Auglaize County Jail have provided help in caring for the dogs and keeping temporary facilities clean at the Neil Armstrong Airport. Plans are to build a new facility behind the Auglaize County Law Enforcement Center in Wapakoneta.

Bailey said a new policy instituted by the Wapakoneta Police Department has helped. They have a location within the city where they can house dogs picked up overnight or for a short time until someone from his office can get to the animals.

Still, the miles add up for Bailey, who in less than a year has put 27,000 miles on a new truck.

Original estimates for the building were approximately $265,000 with projected costs jumping to almost $530,000 when bids came in last year. The lowest of several bids made was more than $100,000 above the estimate.

Before the bids were received, the commissioners had hoped to have a new kennel in place before this year’s Auglaize County Fair.

“Every time we have a meeting for the building, the price goes up,” Bailey said. “It’s a little discouraging.”

Bailey said it put him at a loss for words.

“We really need a building,” Bailey said.

Putting some of the blame for high bids on only one supplier of a certain type of glazed block desired for the project, Commissioner John Bergman said he keeps thinking the cost will fall.

“I don’t want to cheapen this building just to say we have one,” Bergman said. “When you look at ways to cut costs, reducing the size of the building is one, but I’m not for doing that.

“The building is small enough as it is,” he said of plans for the kennel, which in addition to housing at least 18 dogs, needs at the minimum a room for a vehicle and supplies.

The commissioners already had scaled the building down to 2,200-square feet, and even dropping the number of kennels from 24 to 18 wouldn’t save the county that much in building costs, although a reduced number of kennels is a possible option.

Before they move forward with a building the commissioners agreed they would have to secure the funding, and right now, there isn’t enough money in the dog and kennel fund, which receives money from the state-required sale of dog tags.

The commissioners also don’t want to commit money to another large construction project until courthouse renovations are complete.

Commissioners last summer considered taking out a short-term note to pay for the building.

Bergman and Commissioner Doug Spencer said it goes against their philosophy but the need for the building is there and its long overdue.

“Unfortunately, we’re just going to have to try and find a way to secure funding, bid it back out and try to meet the needs of Auglaize County,” Spencer said. “I don’t know another way.”