FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – How ill animals are treated at city pounds is one of the biggest complaints of animal rights groups. Fort Worth city officials say that’s why they’re planning a huge expansion of its animal isolation and medical ward.
“We can hold up to 400 dogs right now but we have only eight isolation kennels,” said Fort Worth Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett, pointing to the floor plan of their current building with a highlighted area showing where the new facility would go.
The problem is properly handling ill animals: In a crowded kennel, they have to be isolated before they spread their sickness to other animals.
“And that’s part of the problem, we don’t have enough medical space or enough isolation space for the animals that are ill,” said Bennett.
The director says the city currently has eight isolation chambers; the expansion will bring them to 58. This is good news for animal activists, who are concerned about the ways sick animals under the city’s care have been treated.
“Well, recently they’ve just been killing them,” said Suzette Watkins, founder of No Kill Fort Worth, an animal rights group that wants city shelters to move to a ‘no kill’ policy.
Sick animals need isolated rehab areas. Sometimes rehabilitation can take several weeks. It’s also space most cities don’t have. Fort Worth wants to change that in its shelter; thus, the plans for the huge expansion.
There’s still a huge hurdle, though –– but, first, cue the broken record: money.
The project will cost $1 million to build and begin operating. Operations will cost $270 thousand a year after that.
As such, Fort Worth is looking for private sector help. They had success in teaming with PetSmart by putting in adoption centers in some Fort Worth stores. The city now is able to adopt out all of the healthy animals in its animal control center.
“But there’s still these hard-to-find-homes-for animals that we know if we had more time to either work with them or more time to find the right rescue group we could find them homes also,” Bennett said.
The expansion, Bennett says, would save 1,500 animals a year.