Delays on new DeKalb animal shelter anger advocates - CBS46 News

Delays on new DeKalb animal shelter anger advocates

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Animal advocates who have been fighting for a new shelter in DeKalb County said they are angered by the constant delays.

A committee was scheduled to discuss the project two weeks ago but that meeting was canceled.

"I think the county is basically backing off on its promise to build a shelter and have it delivered by March 2015," said Wardell Castles, a member of the animal project task force.

Castles said the delays are frustrating as the current shelter in Decatur becomes more overcrowded in the summer months.

"We are full," admitted Karen Hirsch of Lifeline Animal Project, an agency that operates the shelter. "Every single cage here is full of dogs or cats. We are at capacity. Summer brings in more animals."

Hirsch said Lifeline has improved conditions at the current shelter and has recently cut the euthanasia rate in half. However, she admitted the facility is old and has only a temporary air conditioning system during the heat of summer.

"It's not ideal. It's makeshift," said Hirsch. "We do what we can with what we have so it might be a little warm, but it's cool enough to keep everybody going."

The shelter is offering adoption specials to help ease the overcrowding. Dogs and cats over 6 months old can be adopted for $25 during the summer promotion.

"When you adopt you are saving lives," said Hirsch. "You're a hero, and the animals will never let you forget that."

County Commissioner Jeff Rader told CBS46 News the delays are due, in part, to the cost of the new facility. The county planned to spend $8 million but the design advocated by the task force will cost more than $11 million.

Rader said there have been some discussions on downsizing the new shelter, though that is not a popular idea with animal advocates.

Late Monday, the county responded to requests on the reason for the project delays.

"To ensure that all commissioners and the general public have the opportunity to review the presentation, it has been scheduled for the Committee of the Whole on June 17," said spokesman Burke Brennan. "The Administration and the Board of Commissioners remain in steadfast support of building the best facility within present budgetary constraints."

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