POST FALLS — Stray dogs in Post Falls and some surrounding areas will soon have a new temporary home.
The Post Falls Police Department plans to have a new dog shelter built next to the police station this winter and open in the spring for one-stop convenience.
"Right now people will come into the police department's front lobby to find out where their dog is being housed or pay a fine, then we have to send them across town to pick up their dog," said Assistant Chief Pat Knight. "This will offer a one-stop shop that will not only benefit the community, but our employees being in one location."
The City Council has approved a contract for $16,970 with ML Architect that includes site analysis, building and landscape design, construction documents, a topographical survey, submittals to review agencies and engineering.
After that portion is completed, the project will be advertised for construction bids.
"We hope to have shovels in the ground soon," Knight said.
The existing 30-by-40 dog shelter off Seltice Way near the wastewater treatment plant was built 16 years ago.
The new 40-by-60 facility that will be built on the east side of the police station and face Polston Avenue, like the station does, will offer more office space and an intake area to clean the dogs, which is lacking at the existing site.
"The small office out there does not lend itself well to the public coming in," Knight said.
Kennel space is not an issue at the current facility with 40 kennels. The new shelter will have 35.
Knight said the total cost of the new shelter is expected to be around $450,000.
A donation left by Richard Weitzel to PFPD's Animal Safety Division in 2015 will cover $170,000 of the cost. Weitzel, who died of natural causes at 82, donated a total of $235,119 to the division.
The cost will further be defrayed since the city's Wastewater Division will purchase and use the existing facility.
Knight said PFPD last year looked into expanding the existing facility to create more office space and an intake area. That project was estimated to cost $200,000.
"When we looked at the cost to expand versus having the shelter on our own campus, the benefits to bring it home outweighed the expansion," he said.
Knight said the new shelter will resemble the appearance of a storage building the department had constructed on PFPD's campus this year along Mullan Avenue and blend in with the existing buildings.
PFPD is under contract to also take in dogs from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, Idaho State Police and Spirit Lake.
The shelter keeps the dogs from Post Falls for at least three working days — five working days for the other areas — before they’re considered for adoption.
Some dogs, if unclaimed, are taken to rescue shelters. Very few dogs are euthanized. That’s done only as a last resort if they are vicious or unhealthy, said Sheri Benner, animal shelter manager. She said one dog has been euthanized this year.
In an earlier interview, Chief Scot Haug said the agency does everything it can to locate the dog owners. He said if the dog is in good health and adoptable, it’s often kept longer than the minimum days. He said he doesn't believe taxpayers want the department spending a lot of money to keep unhealthy or vicious dogs for extended periods of time.