A cat socialization room, a state-of-the-art ventilation system, and special doors that allow shelter workers to move dogs out of their kennels as cages are being cleaned are just a few of the improvements at the new Memphis Animal Services center at 2350 Appling City Cove.
On Wednesday morning, reporters were taken on a sneak peek tour of the new facility, which will replace the dated, dingy Memphis Animal Services facility on Tchulahoma Road.
Before visitors enter the doors, they're greeted by mosaic tile artwork of dogs, cats, and horses by artist Deborah Brown. The mosaics are peppered along the outside of the structure.
Inside, a large mural of a bucolic landscape overlooks the welcome desk. On either side of the main lobby, windows offer glimpses into socialization rooms for adoptable dogs and cats. The cat room features a spiral staircase offering kitties various levels for sleeping and playing.
Unlike with the current shelter facility (which is only 10,000 square feet), the new 35,000 square foot building has separate holding spaces for dogs and cats. Cats will be housed in "cat condos," which look like kitchen cabinets with glass doors. The condos have multi-leveled tiers.
The stray dog area will remain closed to the public, except for to volunteers with rescue groups and people looking for lost pets. Kennels in both the stray and adoption areas have guillotine doors that allow shelter workers to move the dogs into holding areas while their cages are being cleaned. Each kennel has an automatic water bowl, and kennels for vicious animals have feeders that rotate on a lazy susan to prevent workers from interacting with them. Kennel bars are made from stainless steel, which architect Bill Ferguson says is easier to keep clean and longer-lasting than the material used in the current facility.
One of the biggest changes at the new facility is the state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning system, which is designed to prevent the spread of disease.
Additionally, there's a grooming area with a large bathtub where shelter volunteers can prep pets for adoption, and unlike in the current facility, the animal control officers will have their own control room with desks and computers.
The facility features a large meeting room, where employees will undergo training, and the public will be offered classes in animal care and obedience.
The euthanasia room houses a giant walk-in freezer where dead pets will be kept until the city's animal pick-up crew can retrieve them. Animals scheduled for euthanasia will be kept in a separate holding area of 12 kennels, which means they won't be taken into the euthanasia room in groups. Public Services and Neighborhoods director Janet Hooks said this creates a "calmer environment for the animals that have to be put down."
The vet clinic features a state-of-the-art X-Ray machine and four surgical tables. Hooks said every animal that leaves the facility will be microchipped.
Outside of the facility is a dog run and a barn to house farm animals. Hooks said the barn area still needs some work before it is secure enough to hold horses. She expects Memphis Animal Services to move into the new building by mid-November. The open shelter director position will be posted on the city's website by next week, and a national search will begin.
"We're optimistic that this will be a fresh start," Hooks said. "The mechanics of this facility, with the guillotine cages and the HVAC system, overcome some of the challenges we had at the Tchulahoma facility."