Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter broke ground on the Medical Surgical Center on Friday morning.
Last week, Weatherford City Council awarded the bid to Corbet Design Build to build the animal shelter’s medical and surgical center.
The $1.26 million project to expand began in 2014 when shelter facility needs were being assessed, and a capital campaign was started afterward, Weatherford Municipal and Community Service Director Dustin Deel said. The current medical and surgical space is about 300 square feet, and currently, 80-120 animals are spayed or neutered each week.
“So you can imagine the chaos,” Deel said “I’ve got two tables. I’ve got Dr. [Kent] Glenn working on an animal here while they’re prepping the other table. He turns around, he works on the other side on this animal while they take that animal, lay it on the floor. Literally, there are animals everywhere. They’re on tables, they’re on countertops, they’re on the floors. There’s just no space in that place, so we knew we had a problem.”
Deel said the shelter provides services to not only Weatherford but the rest of Parker County as well.
The center will have two surgery rooms with a capacity of four surgery tables, medical preparation area, expanded animal holding spaces with separate areas for dogs and cats, radiology area, laundry rooms, pharmacy, office space and storage, Deel said. Currently, there is not a completion date for the center.
Weatherford College students and faculty will also be using the space to teach veterinary technician classes starting in fall 2020. The partnership with the college benefits the college by being able to start the program without building its own surgical facility while also benefiting the shelter by having more volunteer work, Deel said. More equipment for the educational program will be available for shelter staff to use.
“Not only will these students be receiving an outstanding education from the Weatherford College, they’re going to be getting hands-on experience that you can’t get online, that you can’t get in a typical classroom,” Deel said.
WC’s program will provide education to both beginning students and those with veterinary assistant training looking to further their careers, WC President Tod Farmer.
“This collaborative project between the city, the county and the college is not only unique to the great state of Texas, as Dustin said, we don’t know of anything like it anywhere in the nation,” Farmer said. “Today is a great victory not only for our animals but also for taxpayers. By pooling our financial resources, we are effectively eliminating duplication of facilities, expensive x-ray and sonography as well as surgical equipment and perhaps, most importantly, labor costs.”
City Manager Sharon Hayes said at the groundbreaking that the animal shelter has a story of success. A few years ago, the shelter had a live-release rate — the percentage of animals that leave the shelter alive — of about 50 percent, and now that rate is more than 90 percent.
“That is phenomenal and that is because of the staff and the volunteers in this community and all the efforts that go into it, the donations of your time and of your money,” Hayes said. “That is your success story. We’re just so thankful that we’re part of that and help it go to the next level.”
The shelter is raising additional funds to build a classroom, and about $250,000 is still needed, Deel said. He encouraged the groundbreaking audience to donate.