By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer
Summit County plans to open its new, long-awaited animal shelter in late summer, officials announced Tuesday.
County leaders kicked off renovations at a former Akron warehouse that will be transformed into the $2.96 million facility.
''It has been a long time coming,'' County Executive Russ Pry said at a news conference inside the building.
A 2004 National Animal Control Association audit recommended a new shelter after finding numerous welfare problems at the current site. County leaders and animal rescue groups have talked ever since about the need to replace the cramped facility on North Street in Akron.
The 19,494-square-foot shelter at 250 Opportunity Parkway, just south of downtown Akron, will include a lobby, adoption area, veterinary clinic, administrative offices and larger parking area. The facility will be able to house more than 80 dogs and 60 cats.
Because of the building's size, shelter workers also will be able to quarantine sick animals — something they are unable to do now.
Animal advocates believe the improved shelter might lead to more adoptions and fewer animals being euthanized.
''We need to treat our pets with dignity and respect,'' county Councilman Cazzell Smith said. ''This facility will make a difference.''
The building was designed by DLZ architects in Cuyahoga Falls and Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo., to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified. For example, the facility will be energy-efficient and use less water.
Fiscal Officer John Donofrio also used the event to kick off the sale of 2010 dog licenses.
The county mailed renewal notices this week to dog owners, he said.
The licenses cost $14 and may be purchased through Jan. 31. People who buy them after that date are required to pay an additional $14 late fee.
State law requires owners to obtain a license within 30 days of getting a dog. Licenses also must be renewed each year. Licenses for dogs providing assistance to the disabled are free and valid throughout the animal's life.
Officials tout licenses as a way for responsible owners to protect their pet, especially if it runs away. Instead of being euthanized or put up for adoption, licensed dogs are returned to their owners.
Last year, the county issued 42,402 licenses. So far this year, the county has licensed 43,831 dogs and 992 kennels.
''The sales have been up and the county needs the money to operate this new facility,'' Donofrio said.
Licenses can be purchased at the Division of Animal Control, 460 E. North St., Akron, and the Fiscal Office, 1030 E. Tallmadge Ave., Akron. They also can be bought at numerous other locations throughout the county. For a complete list, go online to http://scfo.summitoh.net/kanine/DogShops.aspx.
For more details about dog licenses, call 330-630-7226 or go online to http://www.co.summit.oh.us/fiscaloffice.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.