Benton County dog shelter nears opening

KENNEWICK — Benton County's dog shelter should open just after Valentine's Day.

Larry Taylor, who retired as sheriff to become manager of the 32-kennel dog shelter, told county commissioners Monday that an inspection by state pharmaceutical officials next week will be one of the last items necessary before opening the facility on Grant Place in Kennewick.

The commissioners also held a public hearing Monday in Prosser to receive comments for and against a new animal control ordinance that makes it illegal for owners to let dogs run loose. There were no comments.

The hearing was continued to Feb. 14, when commissioners are expected to adopt the new rules. The dogs-only shelter will open the next day, Taylor said.

"This has been a long process. It started in 2004 and today could be my last day dealing with it," said Adam Fyall, county administrative assistant.

The proposed ordinance would allow the county to impound dogs found running at large in the county's rural areas. There would be a $30 fine for the first violation and $50 fine for second violations.

The ordinance would require county animal control staff to try to contact owners of impounded dogs within 48 hours if possible, or to send a certified letter to the owners within 96 hours.

The ordinance does not provide for a licensing process, so animals would have to be identified by name tags or implanted microchips unless animal control officers otherwise can identify the owners.

Fees and proof of valid rabies vaccination will be required for owners to reclaim their dogs.

Dogs whose owners have been identified but are not reclaimed within 72 hours may be offered for adoption or "humanely destroyed," the ordinance says.

The new shelter will be exclusively for dogs from unincorporated areas of the county. "Dogs from the cities will have to go to the animal control authority in Pasco," said David Sparks, county administrator.

Commissioners also approved a contract for spaying and neutering services and "other medical services" with Coleman Animal Health Center in Pasco, not to exceed $10,000 annually.

Also Monday, the commissioners:

-- Heard an update on a feasibility study for building a consolidated crisis response center. Ed Thornbrugh, director of the Benton Franklin Department of Human Services, said the consultant nearly is done preparing a report. He said the options considered are to remodel the former health district offices on Canal Drive by spending $3.8 million and building a second-story addition to it, or spending $4.8 million for a new building at a different location. A final report should be ready to go to Benton and Franklin commissioners by the end of this month, Thornbrugh said.

-- Selected Ray Poland & Sons to provide a foundation, septic system and underground utilities for modular rest rooms at the Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility. Cost will be $19,890.

* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com