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Brookhaven animal shelter finds a new home

More than two years after the city’s engineer presented Brookhaven aldermen with plans for a new animal shelter, the board will get to dig into the dirt with their golden shovels to get the construction project started.

Mike McKenzie, principal engineer with WGK Inc., told aldermen at a recent meeting that a site had been selected and he anticipates asking for permission to advertise at the Feb. 5 meeting. Bids could be accepted in March and construction could begin by late April.

“We’ve talked about a couple different sites,” he said. “There’s been others that we haven’t even talked about. We played the site game for quite a while now.”

McKenzie settled on a two-acre lot near the corner of Industrial Park Road and Old Hwy. 51, about one-third of a mile from the Brookhaven Building. The site is one of the many small city-owned parcels scattered around town. He said engineers queried the tax map and found all the city’s parcels then went through them one by one, eliminating the ones that would not work.

The lot they found backs up to the District 2 Lincoln County maintenance barn on Old Hwy. 51. Gordon Redd Lumber is to the west and a residence is to the east.

“It just didn’t really seem to have any greater purpose in life for right now than this, so that’s why we settled on it,” he said.

The city had been close to the bidding process in the past, but was foiled by a soil percolation test the Mississippi State Health Department needed to determine if a septic tank would be allowed.

The site failed, so it was back to the drawing board for a suitable location.

Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron asked about wetlands and permission from the Environmental Protection Agency. McKenzie said it has passed all tests.

“We’ve done everything we need to do to get the site cleared. We’re ready to go,” he said.

Plans for the shelter include two rows of six sloping pens each, with a medical room, office, a feed and supply room and storage space. Fans will be installed to keep the 12 runs cool in the summer, though the office area would be air conditioned. The entire building will be heated.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider questioned the number of dogs that could be housed at one time.

McKenzie said several dogs can occupy one pen depending on their size and temperament. Aggressive dogs would be kept solitary.

“They only have to have one in there if he’s going to eat everybody else,” he said. “You’ve got way more capacity here than you should need, if your process is expedient. We’re not running a hotel service here. This is a short stay bed and breakfast kind of thing. You get in, you get out.”

Based on the preliminary plan McKenzie presented March 21, 2017, the shelter would cost about $150,000 including site preparation and construction.

Mayor Joe Cox said the money for the project is earmarked in the city’s general fund.

The current shelter sits at the end of a dirt road that winds past debris at the city dump. Two rows of dog runs, about 18 total, are covered with a sheet-metal roof.

Animal control officer Roxanne Norton said the shelter saw about 300 dogs in 2018. It’s a kill shelter but Norton said she regularly gets help placing dogs through the no-kill Brookhaven Animal Rescue League and other shelters and rescue groups. The dogs she has to euthanize are usually those considered to be dangerous to the public, sick or injured.