GEORGETOWN — More than a decade after the Wilco Regional Animal Shelter opened its doors to the lost and abandoned dogs and cats of the county, officials broke ground on a much-needed shelter expansion project Wednesday, Jan. 24.
“It’s been multiple years of trying to address the growth that we’ve had in our county — and not just people — with more people comes more animals,” Wilco Pct. 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said at the ground breaking event. “It’s taking around $10 million to be able to try to accommodate the amount of animals we have.”
The shelter’s expansion and renovation project includes constructing a 17,000 square foot two-story building that will add 64 dog kennels for a total of 149, and double its cat capacity from 93 to 186 kennels. The structure will be right next to the existing facility at 1855 SE Inner Loop in Georgetown, along with a new road off Wilco Way and a parking lot.
With the additional kennels, the new building will have an adoption center lobby, two cat colony rooms, administration offices and an exercise yard for dogs.
Renovations to the existing facility will include a new surgery area and surgical prep rooms, repairs to the A/C and plumbing in 35 existing canine kennels, a feline isolation area, and a laundry area with a cleanup station.
The existing shelter will remain open during construction. However, in order to save about seven months of construction time, the canine population will be temporarily moved to the show barn in San Gabriel Park in late spring, which will still be staffed and offering adoptions, director of animal services Cheryl Schneider said.
With construction underway, the project is expected to be completed in Spring 2019, Covey said.
The frequently overcrowded animal shelter has kept its no-kill and open-admission status for seven years, even during times of extreme overcrowding thanks to community efforts. The shelter once had to take in more than 500 cats in a month, Schneider said.
“We plead on Facebook for a month, and then we decided to do a special with $1 adoptions and people came from everywhere,” she said. “We actually ran out of adoptable cats. Our community is amazing.”
The WCRAS is the only shelter solely devoted to the lost and abandoned animals of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Hutto, Leander, and greater Williamson County.
Leander Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Seiler said the city is proud to see the project commence.
“This couldn’t have been done without the partnerships of Hutto, Cedar Park and Williamson County and Round Rock,” Seiler said. “This is a great example of what it means to be a community partner and do what’s best for the county.”
For more information about the shelter and its "Raise a Paw" donation drive, visit pets.wilco.org.