Proposed animal shelter envisioned to take city to no-kill status
The proposed $38 million project would include a new 67,000 square foot shelter with larger kennels and an outdoor space for animals
The Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, built in 1996, is not in the same decrepit condition as the 40-year-old facility it replaced, though it is showing its age with water leaks and failing air conditioning.
But its design may just be a difference between life and death.
Just a dozen years ago, the odds were against impounded dogs and cats leaving the shelter alive. Just 28% of the animals left alive in 2007.
That rate increased to 86% as of last year, and shelter director Jon Gary is committed to turning Oklahoma City into a “no-kill” community with at least 92% of animals leaving alive. Euthanasia in a no-kill shelter is reserved for terminally ill animals or those that could be a public safety risk.
With that success, however, came the realization the shelter isn’t built for the 90,000 people who now visit every year looking to give pets a new home.
“When they built this building, it literally wasn’t designed for life saving,” Gary said. “At that time, the animals were brought in, held for three days and the vast majority were euthanized. The percentage that left back then was about 15%.”
Gary credits the support of the city council, residents and partnerships with organizations across the community that assist with fostering programs and animal transfers. One of those supporters, Louisa McCune, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, spent months lobbying Mayor David Holt and others to include a new animal shelter with an anticipated MAPS 4.
“We sent our proposal to the mayor in October, 2018,” McCune said. “And we have been nudging it along through the city political sphere ever since.”
The animal shelter is set to receive $38 million if the MAPS 4 sales tax is approved by voters on Dec. 10. The money is expected to fund a new shelter spanning up to 67,000 square feet. Gary said the new shelter will be built next to the current one on the 17 acres owned by the city at SE 29 and Bryant Ave.
“The biggest thing is to make it a better space for the animals,” Gary said. “It will be a bright open space with lots of windows. We will have more kennels, and more importantly, the kennels we have will be larger. We also will be providing a space for the animal control officers. When they built the current space, there was nothing for the officers.”
Plans also call for a lobby that will have separate entrances for those coming and leaving along with adequate space for the increasing visitors looking at animals to adopt.
We’re trying to create a better space for the animals and the people, both those who visit and those who work at the shelter.”
“We’re trying to create a better space for the animals and the people, both those who visit and those who work at the shelter,” Gary said. “We want to create a park-like setting with a place for the animals to go outside and interact with potential adopters.
“We have some outdoor space we’ve built, but it’s not adequate.”
McCune sees the city’s treatment of its animals as part of the equation in continuing to move Oklahoma City forward.
“High functioning animal welfare infrastructure has a major impact on the brand equity of a city,” McCune said. “This question is so important. Animal protection and animal well-being is a critical aspect of vibrant urban life. An animal shelter is the intersection of humans and animals, and we know through robust research and personal anecdotes that this type of facility and quality-of-life focus provides a huge enhancement to cities and towns.”
What will you pay?
The Oklahoman’s MAPS 4 cost calculator can help you estimate how much of your sales tax would be allocated to MAPS 4 if the project is approved. Enter in an estimated monthly amount spent on items subject to sales tax — things like groceries, clothes, home supplies, decorations or other tangible products — to see how much MAPS 4 could cost you over the next 8 years.