NICHOLASVILLE — Kennel technician Nicole King is more than ready to move into Jessamine County's new animal shelter.
"It will have more space, a larger vet room, better opportunities for the staff, cleaner facilities and less chance for the spread of disease," King said.
The county has scheduled a ribbon-cutting for the $720,000 shelter on Friday and a grand opening to the public on Saturday. The county received a $150,000 state grant for construction, and used its own workers and jail inmate labor to save costs.
The new facility in the City-County Park is behind the old animal shelter and faces east, so its entrance will be directed to the proposed Eastern Bypass, a new road that eventually will go around Nicholasville's east side.
The center is the culmination of ideas and funding, said Mike Cassidy, director of public services for the county. He started out as an animal care and control officer, and now heads that department in addition to the county stormwater sewers and solid-waste programs.
"I've worked for the county government for 13 years now, and all through that time we daydreamed about building a new facility," Cassidy said.
Jessamine County is completing its first year of operating the animal care and control program. The program was run by non-profits before the 2011-12 fiscal year, but then the county decided to manage animal care and control on its own for greater accountability, Cassidy said.
"Everybody wants to work together, and we just want to make this the hub for any animal-related issues," he said.
The new shelter is nearly 10,000 square feet, or about five times the size of the old one. It can comfortably hold 44 dogs and 22 cats, but there is space to increase those numbers if needed.
The new building's floor plan reflects the input from local veterinarians, who said the stray population should be separated from the adoptable population. So the adoptable wing is on the far northern side, the stray wing is on the southern side, and offices, a meeting room, and grooming and veterinary exam space is in the middle.
A community/conference room will be used to hold meetings for volunteers or any education classes related to animal care. The room will have classes on pet grooming, and there is talk of holding once-a-month library story times related to humane pet care and related issues.
"There have been a ton of kids that want to have their birthday party at the animal shelter," Cassidy said. "For presents, they'll ask their friends to bring dog food to donate. Now we've got a space where if they want to have their party here, they can have it."
There's a small meet-and-greet room where a prospective owner may interact with a dog or cat for possible adoption.
A cat play room with climbing structures also has a ramp and walkway that leads outdoors, but the felines are still confined so they can't run away. "It gives them a chance to roam," Cassidy said.
Each wing has its own room for food preparation and food storage.
There are separate rooms for dog grooming and for veterinary examinations. There also is a separate isolation room for sick cats and dogs. There, they may be nursed back to health before they join the areas where other animals are kept.
Dispensers are placed throughout the building so people who are handling animals may clean their hands with sanitizing solution.
The county has not decided what will become of the old shelter, Cassidy said.