By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - As construction comes closer to completion for the new Harker Heights animal shelter, the city is preparing to use it.
"There have been a few speed bumps (during construction) but nothing bad," said Lt. Loretta Fox of the Harker Heights Police Department.
"Every day when I come to work there is something new and different out there."
Fox oversees the animal control division of the police department's operations and said staff is looking forward to moving facilities from the Harley Drive location to the Clore Road location.
"I hope to move in there as soon as possible," Fox said, stating there should be building walk-throughs in either September or October.
The completion date is scheduled for November, City Manager Steve Carpenter said.
"I think we are on schedule for that if not earlier than that," Carpenter said.
To be prepared for the opening of the building, the city is already looking at staffing concerns for building.
In July or August, the police department will hire two more animal control employees, which doubles the force, Fox said. Hiring the employees earlier will give them time to get use to operations before the new facility opens.
Currently, two people handle all the adoptions - most by appointment - patrol and respond to calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, and work on call 24 hours a day seven days a week, Fox said.
The new employees will place someone in the shelter during business hours to handle adoptions and allow for animal control to be more proactive than responsive to compliance issues, Fox said.
"This way we will have someone there to show the animals, and we will have officers on the road," Fox said. "Our city is just getting too big for two people."
The city will also be meeting with its Animal Advisory Committee in July to discuss how to use volunteers to aid the shelter, Carpenter said.
Harker Heights' goal of this new shelter is to adopt as many animals as possible, Fox said. The increased space will let the city hold the animals longer, and will hopefully provide a better environment for adoptions to take place.
"We want the shelter to be kind of like a pet store... not like a dog pound," Fox said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.