County takes first step toward new animal impound facility

The Cache County Council has okayed a first step toward the construction of a new animal impound facility by the County Sheriff's Department (Photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers).

CACHE COUNTY – The Cache County Council has green-lighted the first step toward construction of an animal impound facility adjacent to the county jail on SR-30, also known as Valley View Highway.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, council members authorized Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen to proceed with design work and planning for the new facility.

“We’re not going to build the Taj Mahal,” Jensen promised. “It’s not going to have neon lights or be five stories tall. It won’t be ugly, but it’s going to be a government building.

“What we have in mind is a facility that will provide animal control services for the county as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.”

The sheriff said that his department’s intent is strictly to run an impound facility, without getting involved in sheltering or adoption services. The county’s animal control personnel typically handle 200 to 300 lost or stray dogs per year, with about 80 percent of those animals being eventually returned to their owners.

Through special arrangements, impounded animals are now held at the Cache Humane Society and at the North Cache and Blacksmith Fork veterinary clinics.

Given those statistics and anticipated growth, a recent study suggested that Cache County would need a 12,808 sq. foot facility to accommodate its animal control needs for the next decade. At an estimated cost of $220 per sq. foot, such a facility would cost nearly $3 million.

But Jensen is recommending that the county take a more incremental approach to dealing with the issue.

“I’m more inclined to suggest a facility now in the 7,000 to 9,000 square foot range,” the sheriff explained. “That would cost in the neighborhood of $1.7 million to $2 million … with the intent of expanding it down the road, if necessary, when we have a better idea of our future needs.”

Jensen added that the designs for the new facility will be funded with a $55,000 surplus in the Sheriff Department’s existing budget. Those funds are available as the result of reduced training and overtime expenses since the coronavirus outbreak in mid-March.

When completed, the new impound facility will be managed through a partnership between the county, a non-profit veterinary group and Utah State University.

In response to a question from council member Gina Worthen, Jensen said that the new facility would accommodate stray cats and possibly even larger animals on a temporary basis.

“I’m not saying that we should build a large animal hospital,” the sheriff emphasized. “But the days when we could just herd stray horses or cattle into any fenced field and let the farmers sort them out are over.”

Jensen said that about 4.5 acres of county land near the jail could serve as a pasture with shelter and water for temporary holding of stray horses and livestock.

The responsibilities of Cache County deputies assigned to animal control include impounding lost or stray animals, enforcing animal registration ordinances, removing animal hazards from roadways and reducing animal cruelty and abuse.

They provide those services in the communities of Clarkston, Millville, Newton, Nibley, Paradise, Providence, Richmond, River Heights and Trenton under contract and in the county’s unincorporated areas.

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