By Blake Froling
Ingham County Chronicle
The Ingham County Animal Shelter, like many of the animals inside it, is looking for a new home.
“The building has basically exceeded its capacity and its useful life,” said Andrew Seltz, director of the animal shelter. “As we’ve gone and progressed as an organization. The building unfortunately hasn’t.”
The animals suffer the most from the old, dilapidated building. Lack of airflow often leads to illnesses circulating among the animals. Volunteer Roxann Wilkinson described it as a vicious cycle. As soon as some animals recover, they get sick all over again. Puppies and kittens are not kept for very long for fear that they could get sick.
Overcrowding is constantly a problem with the shelter. Fortunately, no animal has been euthanized due to lack of space in nearly two years, but shelter officials are worried that they are pushing the limits of the building every year.
To try to combat this problem, Seltz sent a request to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners on April 9 to try to reduce adoption fees during periods of overcrowding. The request was approved by the board, and the resolution will look like this:
shelter capacity = 80%, adoption fees = 80% off
shelter capacity = 90%, adoption fees = 90% off
shelter capacity = 100%, adoption fees = Waived
shelter capacity = 80%, adoption fees = 50% off
shelter capacity = 90%, adoption fees = 75% off
shelter capacity = 100%, adoption fees = waived
The layout of the building is often confusing to visitors. Volunteer Larry Hagedorn described it as a maze, and said he often sees visitors getting lost in the corridors. The hallways are narrow and congested during busy hours.
Hagedorn, who has been with the shelter for about eight years, thinks it would be a good idea to have a separate wing each for dogs and cats. Currently, both animals go through the same doors, which can be intimidating for some cats.
The search has begun for a new building, but one has not been chosen. There was talk late in 2014 of using the Annex Building in Mason, but the renovations needed to make it work as an animal shelter were too extensive. Commissioner Kara Hope said there was an assessment of the building, but the land and the building were both too small.
“Right now we’re in the process of trying to find something,” said Seltz. “There’s been talks about North Lansing, East Lansing, MSU area, anywhere like that, so we’re currently looking for any type of property out there. So we haven’t had it whittled down yet.”
The price range that the shelter is looking at is tentative right now, but estimated at roughly $6 million. This could change depending on market prices, land value and required building materials. A three acre site would be ideal for a new shelter.
“We’d be looking for a clean canvas,” said Seltz. “Accessibility is going to be important, availability, like is it close to the city, is it close to an interstate, is it easily accessible, those are all things we want to take into consideration.”
Renovating the current building is not a feasible option. According to Seltz, much of the building would have to be knocked down and rebuilt. There is also no room to expand. Seltz thinks a location could be selected and purchased within a year.