On Thursday, July 18, after an hour-long work session in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve $649,000 to move ahead with Phase 2 of the county’s new animal shelter – a continuation of the design phase.

The commissioners have been getting a large number of angry emails and phone calls from the public regarding the fact that the shelter will be smaller than the first plans presented; however, after the work session, the board – and perhaps some animal welfare advocates who attended the meeting – felt better about the available space of the new shelter.

Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega told the board that he hadn’t done a good job in the past of explaining the fact that the shelter could hold more animals than the number of enclosures it contained, and that, therefore, the number of animals that could be held in the new animal shelter was greater than many realized.

The new shelter, as it is currently planned, would be licensed by the state to hold the same number of animals as the county’s current shelter capacity: 525.

“One enclosure does not equal one animal,” Ortega said.

Commissioner Skip Alston also pointed out that, under certain circumstances, it was beneficial to animals to be housed in the same enclosure – for instance, he said, a mother dog with nine puppies should be in the enclosure with her newborns.

Ortega said that was the case and added that it was the policy of the shelter not to separate those animals.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson noted that the design for the new shelter calls for it to have a lot more square footage than the current shelter.  The existing shelter offers about 17,000 square feet of space across eight buildings. The new shelter will have just under 30,000 square feet of space and that space will not be so spread out.

It will also offer more acreage for expansion and for walking the animals.