KENNEWICK — Stray dogs in rural Benton County won't be going to the county's new animal control facility for another month.
Officials had hoped the animal shelter, at 1116 Grant Place in Kennewick, would be up and running by the start of the new year, but construction delays have pushed the opening date back, said former Sheriff Larry Taylor.
Taylor, who retired Dec. 31 after 12 years as Benton County sheriff and 34 years in law enforcement, started his new job as the county's animal control manager Monday.
A couple of weather delays and issues in obtaining some construction materials mean the 3,200-square-foot building likely won't open until next month.
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Taylor said he is shooting to get the occupancy permit and county ordinance in place by Feb. 1 so the shelter can be fully operational by then.
"That will be huge," he said, adding that he was hoping to start moving equipment into the shelter this week.
Animal control in the county -- or rather the lack of animal control -- has been something officials and residents have complained about for decades.
"The problem goes back to when I was on the road as a deputy," Taylor said. "Now we're going to address the problem and deal with it."
When the new shelter opens, residents will have somewhere to take stray, abandoned or injured dogs found in unincorporated parts of the county.
Deputies also will be able to take dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs to the shelter, which is just off Canal Drive behind Meyers Auto Tech.
The facility, being built for $815,640 by G2 Construction of Kennewick, will house 36 kennels, a quarantine area and a sterile medical room.
Taylor has been writing policies for how to deal with strays and adoption procedures, working on getting approvals to store certain narcotics at the shelter and has completed a certification class to euthanize dogs.
Taylor has said his philosophy on euthanasiais that only dogs that are deemed by the court to be vicious or those that medically need it will be put down.
He also has negotiated contracts with Vista Veterinary Hospital, just down Canal Drive from the shelter, to provide medical services for the facility, and Dr. Charles Coleman, of Coleman Animal Health Center in Pasco, to spay or neuter dogs before they are adopted.
"We can't make an impact (on the animal problem) without a spay or neuter program," Taylor said, noting that the costs will be added to adoption fees but those fees still will be affordable.
w Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org