Broward Approves $15.2 Million Animal Shelter

Broward County's abandoned or lost dogs and cats will have fresh surroundings soon, when a $15.2 million shelter replaces the aging former military barracks currently serving as the county pound.

Broward county commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to hire Stiles Corp. to build a 40,000 square foot animal care shelter at 2308 SW 42nd St. in unincorporated Broward County, adjacent to Dania Beach and west of Interstate 95. The building is expected to be completed in 335 days.

Though an upgrade from the present county shelter, it will have less room for dogs and cats, a reflection of the county's goal to diminish the number of animals taken into the shelter and subsequently euthanized.

"We hope the Broward community will embrace the center and help make it a huge success,'' said Cynthia Chambers, director of the county's environmental protection and growth management department.

Animal issues have been a key focus of the County Commission in recent years.

The commission is populated by dog and cat lovers, including Commissioner Chip LaMarca, whose first campaign centered around dog laws. Commissioner Stacy Ritter cried on the dais when talking about her dog, which had congestive heart failure. Former Commissioner Ilene Lieberman Michelson, on the board when some of the animal priorities were set, revealed she has a cat room in her house, with a special cat staircase, and each of her cats was named after a musician, such as "Ringo Starr Michelson.'' Broward Mayor Tim Ryan said last fall that his family includes quite a few non-humans: three dogs, one turtle, one cockatiel and one rabbit.

Frustrated with the high rate of euthanasia in the Broward County shelter, particularly for cats, commissioners in April 2012 voted to embrace a "no-kill'' goal.

No-kill communities still put animals to sleep — sick animals, for example. But they work hard to euthanize far fewer than the average.

In keeping with that goal, a mass spay-and-neuter clinic is expected to rise near the new shelter, as a joint project of the county and the Humane Society of Broward County. The clinic is expected to play a large role in reducing the number of unwanted animals in the county. Increased adoptions also are a component of the no-kill plan.

The current animal care and adoption shelter, on Perimeter Road near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, will close and be reused for aviation purposes, county officials said. It holds 300 to 400 dogs and cats.

"The current shelter has run its useful life,'' Chambers said.

The new shelter will have room for 124 dogs and 164 cats, according to Ariadna Musarra, director of the county's construction management division. A medical facility for vaccinations and surgeries also will be included.

Right now, on average, the county animal shelter houses 250 to 350 animals a day. It's mostly full of dogs, except in April and May, which is high-kitten season, Chambers said.

In other action, Broward County commissioners Tuesday:

•Delayed action on proposed raises for the county administrator, who earns $298,700, the county auditor, who earns $206,675, and the county attorney, who earns $247,555. A vote is expected April 7. The employees have not had raises in two years.

bwallman@tribune.com or 954-356-4541