Animal shelter relocation moves forward

ESCANABA – The relocation of the Delta Animal Shelter has moved one step closer to reality.

After researching nearly 15 pieces of available property and vacant buildings, the shelter was presented with an opportunity to purchase land for building a new facility from Tom and Terry Brayak of Bichler Gravel and Concrete; the Brayaks are donating a large portion of money to the project themselves, according to Delta Animal Shelter Manager Sue Gartland.

The new shelter will be located on a vacant lot spanning 12 acres on County Road 426 near NewPage.

“It’s a vacant lot and it’s nicely wooded,” said Gartland. “It has a man-made creek that runs through it that you can almost envision the dogs playing in. We have had a perc test passed. We worked with an environmental engineer to design the septic layout and the rezoning to make it appropriate for an animal shelter just passed. So now the purchase agreement has been drawn and we are moving forward.”

The move will come after several ongoing safety concerns and space issues the shelter has had with its current county-owned facility, which they officially took over from county operation in 2011.

“Twelve acres is much more than what we need for an animal shelter, but it presents us with a unique opportunity to not only create a nice adoption center…but also to have the potential for it to be a very usable piece of land for animal lovers in the area, possibly walking trails, things that can be done in the future to make it a good location for all sorts of animal activities,” said Gartland.

In addition to having more space to house animals, several of the facility’s new features will include rooms for potential adopters to spend time with animals, a space for cats to spend time outside their cages, and a surgical suite.

The new shelter facility will span just more than 7,000 square feet – an increase from the current approximate 2,000 square foot building.

“We are desperately out of space,” said Gartland, who noted the shelter houses approximately 100 animals on any given day. “In comparison to other shelters in the U.P., Iron River is 8,000 and Iron Mountain is 10,000. We feel around 7,000 square feet is very conservative, but it’s certainly workable.”

Though Gartland said it is too early in the process to announce when the new project will be complete, she noted the shelter is currently working on plans for the new space and coming up with cost estimates before they begin their capital campaign.

“Our projected line of building and getting to the point of where we move in will coordinate directly with donations and public support and grants that we’ve been applying for,” she said.

The announcement of the new space is just one of the positive steps in moving the shelter forward.

“We’ve gone through a lot of things here and when we took over the shelter in 2011, we didn’t want to keep things status quo,” said Gartland. “I think that we’ve made a lot of significant improvements for the animals here…When the county had it they would euthanize about one in three animals and now we’re at a no-kill status shelter, which means we have a 100 percent adoption rate so that is significant progress.”

After struggling to find a new location for some time, Gartland said it feels great to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“The animals are going to love it,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for growth. It’s a very exciting progression for this whole organization.”