Sur­gi­cal suite ap­proved at an­i­mal shel­ter

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Mary Hu­ber mhu­ber@ac­n­news­pa­

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.

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