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City moves forward with new pound

Brookhaven officials recently traveled to Meridian to visit the city’s animal shelter and gathered information that will be used to construct a new shelter here.

City attorney Joe Fernald said several city officials traveled to Meridian’s facility, per a recommendation of municipal veterinarians Dr. William Kimble and Dr. Robert Watson. The city plans to use the Meridian shelter as a model for its future building.

“We made a trip two weeks ago to the Meridian shelter,” Fernald said. “We took photographs. We were given a lot of material on the dog pound. Some of it was state law; some of it was their procedure, their ordinance. They gave us the Meridian ordinance. It’s a world-class operation.”

Fernald spent a day at the Meridian shelter learning about the facility’s floor plan, ordinances and day-to-day operations.

“Mike McKenzie (WGK engineer) went with us, and he’s drawing up the preliminary plans to build what I would consider a world-class animal shelter for the city of Brookhaven,” Fernald said.

When McKenzie develops the preliminary floor plans, he will present the designs to the Board of Aldermen, Fernald said. The building will not be complicated to construct but some features must be built a certain way, creating a longer planning time-line, he said.

“We think we know where we can build it, but the mayor is looking at possible alternatives,” Fernald said. “The facility will be like Meridian’s but will not be as large. The cost for what they have is more than what we need. Their facility was designed based on the county’s population of 40,000.”

Fernald said with a smaller facility, Brookhaven’s staff would not be as large as Meridian’s.

The mayor and board will hold a work session pertaining to the floor plan and how to implement the correct procedures. The pound issue has been a complicated one because of misinformation and a miscommunication between a local group that wanted to rehab the current shelter and the city, Fernald said.

The group sought to bring the current city shelter up to humane standards. The city initially allocated $20,000 for the group to use to rehab the facility. The city later had concerns about liability and who would operate the facility, so the group’s plans were scrapped.

Fernald said the city hopes to have some type of facility to show for its efforts by next year. City officials have not discussed how much the new facility might cost or how the city would pay for it. Details about where the shelter may be built have not been released.