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County approves upgrading animal shelter

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

It was a busy day at the Levy County Animal Shelter on Tuesday. Many of the pens held pups, kittens, cats and dogs up for adoption, and an animal officer was on his way in from Inglis with nine dogs while a resident walked in with two howling kitties.

Outside, the sun beat down on the gray metal roofs over the three buildings that house the animals in pens. Tarps surround the buildings keeping the sun, heat, sand blown from the landfill and foul weather at bay. Fans in the shelter tried to provide a cooling breeze as it was already 75 before lunchtime.

But conditions will be changing soon. Last week, the Levy County Commission approved spending money on new roofing to replace the more than 20-year-old covering. “We need to address this because it’s going to get worse,” Animal Services Director David Weatherford told the commission.

The commission approved accepting the low bid of local contractor Gainesville Roofing’s bid of $5,400 to replace the roofs and the $2,776 bid to put up metal sides. The new roof will be white, which Weatherford said would hopefully keep the facility cooler.

“The sad thing is we’re not going to have any less need for his department,” said Commission Chair Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4).

Commissioner Danny Stevens, of Williston (R-District 5) asked where the funds would come from, and Sheila Rees, the county’s deputy clerk for finance, said it would come out of the major improvement fund.

Comissioner John Meeks of Bronson (R-District 1) said the improvements were necessary. “The department has come under some heat from adoption agencies for the conditions.”

“I think some of these groups have hearts in the right place, but they tend to speak without thinking,” Stevens said.

Community activist Renate Cannon asked where the animals would be kept during the work and Weatherford assured her they would be kept onsite in another building. He said in discussions with the contractor, the possibility was raised that the work could be done on a weekend when the shelter is normally closed and to keep disruptions to the animals to a minimum.