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Animal shelter closer to reality

By Staff | Jan 5, 2020

Two dogs get some exercise outside the back door of the animal shelter.

A long-needed new animal shelter for Faribault County is creeping slowly forward towards becoming a reality.

The idea of a new shelter has been in the discussion stage for several years. Now, it looks like there is at least a chance it could come to fruition this spring, or early summer.

The current animal shelter was originally used as a dog impound, for stray animals, just for the city of Blue Earth. Then it expanded to hold dogs and cats from around the county.

The building, located in Blue Earth near the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, is now operated by a Joint Powers Board, made up of officials from several cities in the county, and the county itself.

Those members include city administrators, some city council members or mayors from the cities, the county sheriff and chief deputy and police chiefs.

The towns involved include Elmore, Wells, Winnebago, Blue Earth and Delavan.

The animal shelter is run on a day to day basis by the Faribault County Humane Society.

“The building is much too small for what we are trying to do,” says Debby (Dundas) Johnson, of the humane society. “We are full to the brim with dogs and cats.”

So, the humane society has been busy having fundraisers and getting donations to raise money to help construct a new building. The Joint Powers Board has also indicated they are willing to build one and help pay for it as well.

The question has been how large of a structure to build, and whether it should be added on to the current building or not.

The group had previously looked at other locations, but had decided the current spot in Blue Earth was the place to have it. They have also pretty much decided to have it constructed as an add on to the current building.

“The humane society has raised over $22,000,” says Blue Earth city administrator Tim Ibisch. “And the Joint Powers Board wants to try and keep the total cost to under $50,000.”

At their last meeting, held in Blue Earth on Nov. 25, the Joint Powers Board heard an update from Johnson who has been developing plans for the new building.

Some of the board members thought the plans showed the building to be too large, and were hoping it could be scaled down, to around 20 feet by 36 feet.

Johnson, however, said there is a need for a larger structure to house the dogs and cats, and the society and some Joint Board members would like to have 10 kennels for dogs.

Johnson has submitted some plans for the new building, but will adjust those plans and bring them to the next meeting.

“I think the intent is to get the plans done and then be able to get bids on the building,” Jacob Skluzachek, Winnebago city administrator and new chairman of the Joint Powers Board, says. He takes over for the departing Ibisch, who agreed with the plan.

“I think the board would like to approve the plans, get some bids submitted and see where the costs are,” Ibisch says. “And then be able to get the project underway.”

And, so would Johnson.

“This process has taken a lot longer than we thought,” Johnson says. “Part of it has been deciding whether it is just an impound shed or an animal rescue facility for long term care.”

She adds both groups have been working together to get a new building constructed.

“We have done all we can do to make the most out of the space, and upgraded the space all that we can,” Johnson says. “And we are so blessed with having wonderful volunteers and some wonderful people who have donated a lot for us to continue to operate.”

And, hopefully by this summer there will be a new building, she adds.