Three large cooling devices are scheduled to be delivered to the Anniston-area facility this week per a request by the facility’s newly established advisory board. Recent triple-digit temperatures and humid weather common during Alabama summers prompted the $4,500 purchase.
“That’s what we want from this board, some creative ideas to make things better,” said Calhoun County Commissioner J.D. Hess.
The facility’s advisory board was created earlier this year after allegations of cruelty and neglect were leveled against employees at the facility, prompting an investigation by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. That investigation has yielded no charges, though it remains open, prosecutors and Sheriff’s Office officials said.
Until now, the control center used a misting system and fans to keep animals cool, said the center’s director, Charles McDonald. The misting system is problematic and keeps the floors wet, he added.
The new system, a cooling fan equipped with a radiator, will blow cool air into the indoor facility. According to McDonald, it’s expected to decrease the temperature in the indoor kennel area by between 10 and 15 degrees.
The indoor portion of the facility, located in the back of the building, contains about 40 kennels for dogs, as does an outside kennel space.
“We just think it needs to be cooler out there because that part doesn’t have any air conditioning,” said Janet Odom, Calhoun County Animal Control Advisory Board member. “We’re kind of just getting in to see what we can do to help.”
According to McDonald, at capacity, the facility can hold about 180 dogs and 100 cats.
The old misting system will now be moved outdoors, where larger dogs are often kept.
McDonald said board members recommended changing the cooling system, but he researched which system should be implemented. Together, with help with officials at the Calhoun County Commission office, he worked to secure funding for the devices in short order, McDonald said.
The Calhoun County Commission is paying for one of the devices. Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, and Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, will each pay for one of the devices using state funds. The items were ordered within a few days of the board’s recommendation, said Calhoun County Administrator Ken Joiner.
“That broke the cost down so we could go ahead and do it,” Joiner said. “They expressed an interest in helping.”
Temperatures have been high in recent weeks and have contributed to the timing of the purchase, but none of the animals at the facility died from overheating, Joiner said.
“It’s just unbearably hot,” he said. “This will make things more humane.”
Board Chairman John Wippler declined to comment. He told a reporter he wanted to talk to commissioners and prepare a press release.
The press release was not delivered by Monday afternoon.
According to the center’s latest figures, between 70 percent and 80 percent of the animals that arrive at the clinic are euthanized. By law, they have seven days to live once delivered to the facility.
McDonald said the animals may live beyond seven days in the clinic depending upon space limitations and whether they are vicious dogs.
Staff Writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.