Guilford County commissioners have been getting emails and phone calls lately that aren’t from people telling them what a great job they’re doing – instead, they’re from citizens expressing dissatisfaction over the fact that the new Guilford County Animal Shelter, due to budget constraints, is going to be 30 percent smaller than originally planned.

This week, Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning said that some of those who have expressed their disappointment to him have done so in a very forceful way, and Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said a vocal contingent of county residents had also let him know that they weren’t pleased with the decision.

“I’m getting some pretty snarky letters on the downsizing of the shelter,” Branson said on Monday, July 1.

Other commissioners also told the Rhino Times they were receiving similar feedback from animal welfare advocates.

Opponents to the move have also spoken at commissioners meetings in June as well as let their feelings be known on social media sites. One wrote in a Facebook post: “Since the shelter can’t seem to meet their current needs let’s build a smaller one!  I am no expert in ‘design theories’ but ‘Less is more’ generally doesn’t work out in most ‘realistic life theories’! What BS!!!! This makes me sick!!!!”

At a June work session of the Guilford County commissioners, Guilford County Facilities Director Dan Durham told the board that, though originally the new shelter was going to have 37,482 square feet of space and a capacity of 407 animals, that facility came in several million dollars over the $14.8-million budget that was approved for the project.  The revised design, Durham stated, calls for just over 29,700 square feet of space and a capacity of 333 animals.

That’s about a 30 percent reduction in the square footage in the facility.

Several commissioners said this week they’re trying to assure the upset citizens that the new shelter – though smaller – will be an excellent place for the animals and that it will be large enough to meet the county’s needs given enhancements in adoption and animal foster care programs.

“One thing they don’t understand,” Branson said, “is that as we move forward we’re going to work for even more adoptions.”

Branson also said another very important fact that’s been lost to some is that the new shelter is being designed so that it can be expanded. He said that, if it turns out more shelter space is needed, the county can always add it.

“There’s no reason we have to do it all at once,” Branson said.

Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega has said publically that, in his estimation, the downsized facility will be big enough to meet the county’s needs.