Benton Co. animal control facility to open Feb. 1

KENNEWICK — The days of reckless freedom for wandering and vicious dogs in rural Benton County are numbered, with Benton County's new animal control facility to soon be finished.

The 3,200-square-foot building at 1116 Grant Place, off Canal Drive in Kennewick, also will provide a sanctuary for abandoned dogs until they can be adopted.

Bad weather caused construction delay, but shelter director Larry Taylor says it will be ready by Feb. 1.

The $815,000 building will have 34 kennels, a separate room for mother dogs and pups, a medical room, two isolation rooms, an office, reception area and plenty of security cameras. There also will be outdoor dog runs.

Taylor, the former Benton County sheriff, helped design the facility with Paul Hart, his former undersheriff.

The construction delay was caused by cold weather preventing the asphalt parking lot from being laid.

"The county approved a last-minute change order so we could have the parking lot finished in concrete instead of asphalt," Taylor said. "When it gets as cold as it's been the last couple of months, the asphalt companies can't do their work."

That change, however, meant Taylor had to find other ways to reduce costs without causing another delay.

So he and the county's facility director Roy Rogers dipped into their own pockets to pay for carpet in the reception and office areas and some of the paint. Both also are doing some labor this week to ensure the Feb. 1 opening is on schedule.

"This has definitely been a labor of love," Taylor said. "I am pleased the architect drew up the plans so that the inside of this facility is exactly how Paul and I designed it."

Each kennel is 28 square feet. A drain runs parallel to the kennels and the floors are sloped for more efficient draining.

"I don't want this facility to develop an overpowering dog waste odor, so (hygiene) will be a priority," Taylor said.

Jail inmates will do most of the cleanup work at the shelter, which will save the county money and give the inmates something to do, he said.

Shelter hours will be from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The site will be staffed by Taylor, one full-time animal control officer and volunteers.

Taylor also plans to work with sheriff's deputies, who will be called to handle any vicious dog reports if he's not available.

"I've been pushing for an animal control facility for rural Benton County for a long time and I'm thrilled to finally see it happening," Taylor said.

Taylor knew he was the best person to manage the animal control site, but decided he couldn't perform duties as sheriff and rescue director adequately. So he decided not to seek re-election and took a pay cut for the $72,000 shelter director job.

"I've got the management skills, I have state certification for pet first aid, I already know how to work with the sheriff's department, and I understand policy and procedure when working with the county," he said. "I am the right person for this job and I'm excited about it."

Besides helping build something practical for the people of Benton County that has been needed for a long time, Taylor plans to make sure it runs efficiently under his command.