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FARMINGTON — With the intent of offering a pet-store friendly environment that encourages and increases pet adoption, the plans for the new Regional Animal Shelter were unveiled to the Farmington City Council on Tuesday night.

Located on an area off Browning Parkway near Animas River Park, the proposed 14,987 square-foot building will have the capability to house 170 dogs, 130 cats and five exotic animals.

Two entrances to the building will exist one for those wishing to adopt and animal and one for those picking up a lost pet or needing to surrender an animal.

While the plan was met with overall acceptance by council members, Councilor Mary Fischer and Jason Sandel expressed some concerns.

Fisher questioned the decision to have a drop box area, where people can surrender pets after hours.

"Most shelters have eliminated (the concept of a drop box) and I believe it falls in the cruel category," Fisher said. " Why are we continuing to do that?"

"I think we are taking a step back if we are to continue that practice," she said. "I believe we need to cater more to the animals than irresponsible people."

The new shelter is expected to be able to house animals for about 10 days before euthanazia occurs, longer than the 3 to 5 day period that exists currently.

While that extended period is expected to increase the opportunity for an adoption to occur, Sandel questioned whether the new building would be big enough to house the increased number of animals while still preparing for the future.


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"What's the added bang for the buck?" he said.

Sandel wanted to know if the new shelter was being built with future goals in mind.

About 8,000 animals are housed at the shelter currently and advocates, in light of hoping to increase adoptions with the new design, do not anticipate that number to increase.

He also questioned whether the entrance would allow enough pets on display to encourage the pet store-like atmosphere advocates are hoping for.

In the current design, the public will enter the building and be able to view various cat condos through glass where male cats will be held.

"This is a little tongue in cheek, but it will benefit to be a male cat in our community," he said eliciting a laugh from the room.

Dave Gasser of BDA Architecture, the Albuquerque-based firm contracted to complete the designs, said the glass window to the exotic animals would greet customers, while people can walk down the long hallway to view cats and dogs as well.

The facility is expected to cost $3.5 to 4 million and officials cautiously anticipate the design phase, including securing permits, to be done in November.

If so, the new shelter could be open as early as September 2013.

The state contributed $2.7 million to the project through a grant, and the city and county are expected to share the rest of the cost. Shelter advocates have pledged about $500,000 for residual costs.

The presentation of the shelter to the City Council followed an earlier public meeting. Response to the design was met with approval and excitement by the public, particularly animal advocates who have fought for six years for a new, updated shelter.