Tyler Regional Animal Care Shelter nearing completion
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor, Manchester, East Hartford - posted Wed., Nov. 28, 2012
Renovations to the Tyler Regional Animal Care Shelter in South Windsor are almost complete. The animal control facility, which is being refurbished from a former firehouse located at 124 Sullivan Ave., will serve the towns of East Hartford, Manchester and South Windsor. The project is made possible by a $515,000 Regional Performance Incentive Grant, issued by the State of Connecticut, Office of Policy and Management.
The Manchester Board of Directors approved the inter-local agreement between the participating towns to share the facility at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, marking the last formal step of the town before the facility begins operating. According to Julian Freund, budget and research officer for the town of Manchester, repurposing the South Windsor firehouse concluded a “long process of finding a suitable arrangement.”
Originally, the grant money was intended for the purchase of land, upon which the Humane Society would then construct a facility that would house local animal control functions, but would also serve as a shelter for the East of the River area, similar to a Connecticut Humane Society facility in Newington which serves the area west of the Connecticut River. Freund said the missions of both the Humane Society and local towns would “dovetail,” and an arrangement would be established where impounded animals that were unclaimed would be adopted by the Humane Society. “We weren't able to arrive at a suitable site,” said Freund. “It just never materialized, and ultimately, the funding source that they had in place to do the project got hammered pretty badly when the stock market dipped, and the decision was made that they would pull out.”
The procurement of the grant was done through the Capital Region Council of Governments. Regional planning agencies submitted their grant applications on behalf of local towns that had plans for cooperative regional efforts. As CROG was awarded the grant, they have administered the grant for Manchester, South Windsor and East Hartford. Fifteen thousand dollars went towards CROG for administrative expenses, and the remaining $500,000 was used for the refurbishment project.
The facility will have 35 dog kennels. “We believe this is more than enough capacity for our three towns,” said Freund. Each town will be responsible for its own impounded animals. “When Manchester impounds an animal, it will be Manchester's responsibility, and our animal control officer will be responsible for linking up with the owner and making sure the animal is cared for,” Freund said. After a year or two of operation, during which time the capacity of the facility will be better gauged, they may seek additional towns who might like to use the facility as well. “Operating costs will be split among the participating towns based on occupancy rates,” said Freund.
Before the project, South Windsor was spending $20,000 to use the animal control facility in Vernon, near the sewer treatment plant. South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed, who oversees South Windsor animal control division, was not comfortable with using that facility, and proposed using the former firehouse instead, which had been up for bid with no interested buyers. After getting approval from the town manager and town council, construction bids went out in May 2011 and construction began in June 2011 to rehabilitate the building.
The firehouse, built in 1965, was occupied by the South Windsor Volunteer Fire Department until 2010. Renovations to the building include removing asbestos, installing high-efficiency and redoing the heating and hot water system, renovating the interior rooms, cleaning up the grounds, building a side wall to enclose an outdoor training area, and installing the kennels.
“There is also going to be a generator, so this can also be used for our emergency management program,” said Reed. If people are unable to care for their pets during a power outage, they could utilize the powered facility. Also, the facility could be used as a staging area for public works personnel in the event of a winter storm emergency.
The facility now features an administrative area for three animal control officers, a station for cats and exotic animals such as birds or turtles, a small kitchen area for staff, a room where people interested in adopting a dog can spend time with the animal outside of the kennel, a bathroom, and the area formerly used as the fire truck garage, which is now home to 35 10' x 4' kennels. Regulations require the kennels to have 40 feet of space, and doorways between back-to-back kennels can be opened, allowing a dog to have twice that amount of space available. Underground plumbing was installed to provide drainage for each kennel, and overhead hoses help make daily cleaning of kennel space quick and easy. Special kennels with easily-cleaned, stainless steel siding will be used to house sick dogs. The area is heated and well-ventilated.
An outside area for training and obedience classes is walled off for privacy. Reed noted that the spacious property can be used to accommodate large animals. “What if you need to take in a horse? What if you need to take in an ostrich? These are all things that we have in South Windsor,” said Reed. If someone needs to leave their house in town but is responsible for large animals, the facility is equipped to handle the situation.
When a dog enters the facility, animal control officers work to locate the owner, and post the dog on PetFinder.com. If not claimed, they work with local animal rescue groups to find an adoptive home.
The Tyler Regional Animal Care Shelter is named after Gary Tyler, the previous police chief in South Windsor. “When he got here in 1987, he said, 'We should have regional dispatching, regional jail and a regional animal shelter.' They're the three biggest things we spend money on, why should every community spend money on that stuff, why can't we as communities get together and share?”
Though currently in use, a date for a dedication ceremony has not yet been determined. The facility is located at 124 Sullivan Ave., in South Windsor. For more information, contact South Windsor animal control at 860-648-6239 or the Manchester animal control at 860-645-5516.