By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Demolition began Tuesday on the Denese Miles Pet Adoption Center, 3428 S. Jenkins Ave., to make way for the new Norman animal shelter that was approved by voters in 2011.
“I’m excited,” said Tom Kovach, one of three Norman City Council members who pushed the shelter forward by invoking the “rule of three” to get the measure on the city agenda. “It’s one of those rare situations where it’s really been the people’s deal all along.”
Kovach said animal lovers promoted the ballot measure and got people out to vote. The $3 million project was approved 6,982 votes to 2,223.
“It passed by one of the largest margins we’ve ever had,” Kovach said.
The project will be built in two phases.
Deputy Police Chief Jim Maisano said initial plans were to gut the adoption center and refurbish it, but further investigation revealed that the ductwork needed for a new filtration system would not fit and the rooflines would not have lined up.
“As things progressed, they started realizing it was not going to be cost effective to try to modify the existing material that was there,” Maisano said. “It was more cost effective to basically start with a new slab and expand west toward the impound building.”
While the Denese Miles Pet Adoption Center was the newest portion of the Norman animal welfare facility, it only had 20 dog cages and 20 cat cages. The older, original building has 55 dog cages. Additionally, some of the cat cages in the new facility were on rollers and could be moved to the old facility.
Tearing down the pet adoption center allowed the animal welfare facility to remain operational during construction.
“That will still be the Denese Miles Pet Adoption Center,” Maisano said. “It will just be expanded and improved.”
Dedicated in 2008, the pet adoption center bears the name of animal activist Denese Miles, who died of cancer in 2007.
“We calculated out what had to be Phase 1 and Phase 2 during the construction project,” Maisano said.
After looking at several options, it was decided that the animal welfare center needed to remain operational and that it was most feasible to tear down the smaller, though newer, structure first.
During the planning phase, Maisano said his family would often look over the project with him. In particular, his daughter, Sara, loved the idea of a sun porch for the cats. But as the project developed, costs came in higher than had been anticipated and the cat porch was eliminated.
Sadly, Sara was murdered June 27. As the Maisano family sought ways to heal, they remembered how sad she was when she heard there was not enough money for the cat porch. The family decided to give back to the community and started a campaign to raise the funds for the cat porch in Sara’s memory.
Norman responded generously, making the cat porch a reality for the upcoming facility.
Phase 1 construction should take about 150 days, Maisano said.
Animal Welfare Supervisor John Bowman said right now, with 20 less cages, space is tight, but volunteers have worked hard to promote animal adoptions during the construction period.
“Phase 1 will get us back into the new center,” Bowman said. “I’ll have more than 70 kennels when Phase 1 is done and then that number again when Phase 2 is done.”
Meanwhile, volunteers are keeping the shelter open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays for adoptions.
Bowman said November is Black Dog Month and black dogs can be adopted at the discounted rate of $25 versus the usual adoption fee of $60. The dogs still will have vaccinations, be spayed or neutered, have a city pet license and have been tested for heart worm and ehrlichia infection.
“Black dogs historically are the hardest to adopt,” Bowman said.
The new facility should be completed in about one year. In addition to more space, it will provide better ventilation and other disease preventative measures. The current shelter was built in 1973.
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