LifeLine Animal Project dogs

Dogs rescued from a hoarding situation snuggle in the LifeLine Animal Project shelter in Fulton County.

A new animal shelter for Fulton County is a step closer to becoming a reality, but will cost an estimated $32.5 million to build with an annual debt payment of $1.5 million.

“Approval of the new animal shelter feasibility study was something that was long overdue as our present shelter is in pretty bad shape,” District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis said.

At its Nov. 6 meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta, the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 to accept not only the study but also its recommendations regarding a new shelter.

The commission in May approved the $250,000 feasibility study, on construction of a planned new shelter for its service provider, Avondale Estates-based LifeLine Animal Project. It was conducted by PGAL and Animal Arts, architectural firms based in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, respectively.

Starting in June, the county hosted a series of community meetings on the study. Located on Marietta Boulevard in northwest Atlanta, Fulton’s current shelter was built in 1978 and has been deemed inadequate by some. Nearly 38,000 individuals have signed a change.org petition (bit.ly/2KcxRE3) calling for “a safe, new shelter.”

In addition to construction costs, according to a PowerPoint presentation on the new shelter, it would promote a better environment for the employees, volunteers, constituents and animals.

With regard to benefiting the staff and volunteers, the shelter would radically improve safety measures in handling the animals while creating a healthy sanitation environment and developing increased staff efficiency, according to the study’s findings.

The report also stated the county’s new shelter facility, to be built on Fulton Industrial Boulevard, would house about 376 dogs, 99 cats, six livestock, six to 18 chickens and 12 to 24 other animals. If all goes as planned, the new shelter would open in summer 2021.

The report also pointed out other benefits of a new shelter by stating what similar facilities in other parts of the country reflected. These included adoptions increasing by 30% in a New Mexico shelter, an animal’s stay being reduced by four days in a New York facility and pet adoptions increasing by 15% in its first year of operation in an Arizona shelter.

“We went about evaluating a new shelter by looking at what we should do in the right way in terms of engaging people who have helped other significant-sized counties, like Fulton, decide what kind of new facility would be built,” Ellis said.

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