LIMA — Replacing the Allen County Dog Warden’s building may be the next major capital project undertaken by Allen County.
Like many county properties, the dog warden’s office has been in need of repairs due to shrinking budgets and lack of upkeep. During a visit with Allen County Commissioners on Tuesday, Chief Dog Warden Julie Shellhammer highlighted some of the more dangerous aspects caused by lack of repairs and presented commissioners with a series of options to renovate the building.
The cheapest was estimated to cost $1.2 million, which commissioners questioned as seeming high for the dog warden’s needs. In the meantime, Shellhammer requested some minor repairs to ensure the building remains safe for county employees.
“My main concern right now is keeping staff safe,” Shellhammer said.
Unlike other county departments, the Allen County Dog Warden is completely self-funded through revenues generated through dog licenses. Shellhammer said she has set aside roughly $400,000 to build a new building by squeezing the department’s budgets over the years.
Located at 1165 Seriff Road, the dog warden’s building is currently capable of housing 32 larger dogs and roughly a dozen smaller dogs or puppies. Another 30 cages are located outside to house the dogs while the interior enclosures are being cleaned.
Shellhammer estimated no need for more space. Instead, the new building would replace the current aging building constructed in 1979.
The primary responsibility of the dog warden is to keep track of the county’s dog population and investigate alleged dangerous dogs. On average, Shellhammer said her office looks into at least one dog bite or attack per week.
Outside of those responsibilities, the dog warden’s office is also used by law enforcement officials throughout the county as a holding area for loose dogs. During after hours, officers will often drop off animals at the center and file the necessary paperwork to ensure owners can find their dogs if they run off their property.
Allen County has also began partnering with the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office to provide space to any loose dogs Van Wert deputies may find. Since forming that partnership earlier this year, Shellhammer said the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office has dropped off 12 dogs in total at the building.
“We can get something built this summer if we get on the ball,”Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.