Surgical suite approved at animal shelter
Bastrop County commissioners have approved a service agreement to build a new surgical suite at the county-run animal shelter, which could expand spay and neuter services across the region.
The building will feature a waiting and reception area, two exam tables, a prep space, laundry facilities and storage, according to preliminary design sketches submitted by Compass Rose Design Group.
For shelter director Ashley Hermans, it is a long-awaited addition to the facility, giving staff room to grow and expand, with the hope they can offer routine spay and neuter services for the public.
“We get calls every day from people asking about low-cost spay and neuter services,” Hermans said. “Unfortunately, right now, we are just not equipped to help them, which is terrible for our community.”
The shelter spays and neuters all animals it offers for adoption. But residents who need the routine services have to book an appointment with a local veterinarian, which is often expensive, or drive to East Austin to visit Emancipet.
Sometimes the waiting list to get in for surgery is long, Hermans said, which can increase the likelihood of unwanted litters.
Data show the Bastrop County shelter on average is populated about 61 percent by stray animals, which is nearly double the state and national average. This is partly because of the county’s rural backdrop, Hermans said, but it has even more to do with the lack of spay and neuter services available in Bastrop.
Hermans is hoping the new surgical suite could help change that.
She has put in a request for more money — about $104,000 — in the 201718 budget to pay a contract veterinarian and related staff to perform wellness checks and spay and neuter services twice a week, so people don’t have to drive to Austin for affordable surgeries.
“We can’t continue to rely on Austin and Travis County to solve the problems we have here,” Hermans said. “Bastrop County needs to start working on solving some of our own problems by supporting programs that make a difference. For me, the No. 1 on that list is being able to offer spay and neuter to the public, not just people adopting at the shelter.”
The surgical suite is the first step in accomplishing this goal.
The shelter receives an annual budget of nearly $1 million to provide several services, including animal control.
The new surgical suite is expected to cost around $160,000, the bulk of which will be paid for by a private donation and insurance money granted after a wind storm destroyed the shelter’s storage building in April 2016.
The county is contributing $85,000 toward the project.
The building is expected to be completed and operational by February.