Former prison building proposed as animal shelter | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Julie Riddle A map of a proposed animal control facility in the old Alpena County Jail building appears Thursday.

ALPENA – With secure bedrooms, carpet-free floors and a yard with no public access, the former Alpena County Jail building would be an ideal new home for the Alpena County Animal Control Shelter, said Michelle Reid, County Animal Control, Courts and Public Officer. Security Commission Thursday.

Donors have committed $60,000 to renovating the building if the county approves its use as a shelter, Reid reported, detailing ways the proposed facility could generate more than $20,000 a year to help support it. .

The committee asked Reid to come back with more financial details about the proposed renovation and said a decision on the use of the building could be left to county residents.

“You’re going to have people who care about animals and people who don’t care,” Alpena County Commissioner Don Gilmet told Reid at the meeting. “But we’re talking about a big outlay of money. And I’m not saying it’s not for all the right reasons. But we Commissioners should explain it.

Animal control workers tested the former prison building’s usefulness as a shelter in January, when it was used to house 46 cats rescued from a deceased local breeder, leaving the cats in horrible hoarding conditions.

News Photo by Julie Riddle Alpena County Animal Control Officer Michelle Reid explains Thursday how an old cell in the old Alpena County Jail building could be turned into a room to house cats , like this one, pictured, rescued from a hoarding situation.

The building’s cells, originally intended for humans, made ideal quarters for animals, Reid told the committee, outlining his proposal for a wing for dogs and another for cats.

The development of the cells would allow play areas for cats and a space dedicated to small dogs. The old drunken tank could serve as a pup room, she says,

The exit port, used by prison officers to lead arrested people into the prison building, would prevent animal escapes, and the prison’s holding cells would keep new arrivals separate from the general population, Reid suggested. .

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A courtyard in the center of the building would provide a safe outdoor space for dangerous dogs or dogs under special protection as “living proof” in cases of neglect or abuse, Reid said.

News Photo by Julie Riddle An emaciated dog rescued from neglect looks out the window of a holding cell in the old Alpena County Jail building as Officer Michelle Reid looks on Thursday. Alpena County Animal Control.

Several businesses have expressed interest in renting space in the building for pet grooming or training services, Reid reported.

She described donation offers totaling $60,000, including from people interested in sponsoring the renovation of a dog or cat room, subject to the county’s approval of Reid’s proposal.

These deals include an offer of $15,000 to pay for the start-up costs of an animal crematorium. Providing the service would save the county money — it currently contracts out cremations — and generate revenue, she told the committee, sharing Cheboygan County revenue reports, which brings in $20,000 a year from cremations.

Local veterinarians pledged their support for Reid’s plans to provide basic, low-cost veterinary services in the expanded shelter. The service would help prevent animal neglect and provide immediate care for animals seized in neglect situations, and also save the county money on its own veterinary bills, she said.

County police had to leave cats and dogs in numerous hoarding and neglect situations because there was no room to put the animals. Whether or not it uses the old jail building, the county will need to expand its current shelter, which can only house a handful of animals at a time and has been overwhelmed with unwanted animals in recent years, a- she declared.

The old jail building passed an inspection by a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development official in January and could be used immediately for shelter purposes, though Reid is calling for interior renovations.

The committee will review Reid’s plan again when she provides them with more details on the cost of those renovations, Gilmet said.

The county does not yet know if anyone is interested in buying the building or, if sold, whether it will be used or demolished, Gilmet said. He thinks the zoning of the property would allow the old prison building to be used as an animal shelter.

“I just guess, if you can get a bunch of wild humans in a building…” Gilmet said.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jriddleX.


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