County Awards Bid for Animal Shelter Addition

New cat section will allow for more efficient intake, less disease transmission

By Molly Priddy

 The Flathead County Animal Shelter will be getting a new addition to help deal with spacing issues, that will keep the cats from having to live in the same section as dogs at the facility.

The Flathead County Commission voted 2-0 on July 21 to accept a bid on the new shelter addition. Commissioners Gary Krueger and Cal Scott voted to select the $130,000 bid from Outback Construction.

According to a June 27 memo from Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell, the new addition will house the feline population at the shelter and give more space to the rest of the shelter inhabitants.

Not only is more space more comfortable, but it also helps with the reduction of disease transmission within the sheltered animal population and will allow for a more streamlined intake process.

Currently, kittens are housed near the canine population, and they share the same HVAC system. Moving these vulnerable cats to the HVAC system for the main cat area will be beneficial for their health, the health department reported.

By giving the cats their own wing, they will no longer be on the “dog side” of the whole operation, Russell wrote, and the shelter’s little dog population can take over the space the cats will be vacating.

Then, the current small dog space will be used for intake, allowing for a more efficient process.

“The expanded shelter space will accommodate cat intake,” Russell wrote. “Removing intake from the front counter reduces the risk associated with comingling animals in tight confines and allows for a more effective intake of animals.”

Russell’s memo recommended that the commission accept the $130,000 bid from Outback Construction, despite the bid numbers coming in higher than expected for the project.

The two other bids turned in on May 19 for the project placed construction costs at $138,500 and $153,000.

The commission initially received bids for the project in March, but the proposed cost was much higher than the county had expected, and the commission summarily rejected those bids in a March 24 vote.

In January, Russell brought the expansion idea in front of the commission, with a proposed cost of about $76,000. In that discussion, Russell said the cost of the construction project would likely be shared between the county and the Flathead Shelter Friends, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the shelter and its animals.

There was already seed money for the project from the group in place in January, and in his June memo to the commission, Russell wrote that although the cost for the new addition came in higher than he expected, “we will use funds from an unrestricted donation account to cover the additional cost to construct.”

Other recent construction projects at the shelter have included adding new kennels and living space for the dogs, as well as seeking out a new air conditioning system to keep the animals cool.

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