OKC Animal Welfare hoping for MAPS 4 inclusion to get new shelter, save lives

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Council is preparing to hear potential MAPS 4 proposals and one of them is for the city's animal shelter.

So far, in the month of June, about 225 animals have been euthanized due to a lack of space.

Now, even citizens are starting a campaign to help them get a new facility.

Right now, OKC Animal Welfare has a goal of a 90% live release rate.

The trouble is, they say the current shelter was never built for that.

"It was really designed for the fact that animals come in, they stay three days and then they leave," said Superintendent Jon Gary. "They're either euthanized or they leave."

Gary knows the shelter as well as anyone.

He's worked at the shelter for decades - in just about every job there.

He says there's room for improvement, starting with the front door where animals are coming and going nearly all day.

"You don't want animals that aren't healthy, that are coming into the building, intermingling with animals that are leaving that are healthy," Gary said.

He says space is also a huge issue.

They're hoping to go from an approximately 47,000 square-foot space to a new building about 55,000 square-feet large.

The shelter's capacity is about 280 dogs and they're currently housing 400 - many of them sharing kennels.

"So, really trying to create a less stressful environment and place for the animals to be all together," he said.

Another key issue is the vet clinic - where there's a lack of room and equipment.

Currently, they don't even have an x-ray machine.

All of these problems are leading community members to push for the first new animal shelter in Oklahoma City since 1998.

"So much has been learned in the last 20 years about animal sheltering, in entrance and design, and this facility lacks all of those new understandings," said Louisa McCune, who helped start the campaign.

"We really need a building that's designed for life-saving and that's what we're hoping to get out of this," she said.

The PAWS for MAPS 4 plan will be heard at the July 11 city council meeting.

The cost is estimated at around $40 million.

For more information on PAWS for MAPS 4 click here.

To see the other items proposed for MAPS 4 click here.

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