The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter should have a new home in time for next Christmas.
The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter is a joint effort by Pasco, Kennewick and Richland through the Tri-City Animal Control Authority. The cities contribute money to operate a shelter and to provide animal control throughout the three cities.
They each contributed $2 million toward the planning and building of the new shelter.
The new site is expected to feature a separate area for visitors to be able to meet and spend time with their prospective pets, an exam room for sick and injured animals and improved access from the street.
It will be able to hold more animals, including 74 dogs, 84 cats and 24 kittens.
For community member Julie Webb, the event was the culmination of years of traveling to city council meetings, talking with officials and campaigning.
She helped organize the #NothingFancyJustFunctional Facebook group, a rallying point for the project.
She told the Herald she was happy the construction was finally getting started.
One of the other key figures in developing the new building, Zach Ratkai, Pasco’s administrative and community services director, spoke at the event.
He said the project is the culmination of extensive research and efforts from the entire region.
“What you will see built on this site is a facility that will be larger than our current one,” he said. “A building that cannot only provide temporary shelter to dogs and cats in our growing region, but provide housing for them in a secure and safer environment.”
The new 9,600-square-foot building will be on 2.5 acres next to the existing facility off South 18th Avenue in Pasco.
And the location will mean volunteers can continue to take advantage of the existing trail system when they walk the animals.
The new facility will replace three aging structures, one of them dating back to the 1950s.
This fall, city officials permanently took control of the shelter after a report showed that overcrowding, sick animals and a lack of stable veterinary care have become too big of a problem for nonprofits to handle.
The report said that a constant cycle of contractors had left the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter in an unstable position, even before a surprise inspection in November 2021 found 30 sick cats and four malnourished dogs.
That inspection led to the city pulling the contract from Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation, and was followed by a series of legal issues for the nonprofit.