With a large hole already carved out of the ground and heavy equipment waiting to get back to work, the official groundbreaking of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) took place under sunny skies Wednesday, January 24. The event not only celebrated the start of construction on a new 16,970 square-foot, two-story addition and renovations to the current facility, but also the 10-year partnership between Williamson County and the cities of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Hutto, and Leander to operate the regional shelter.
Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul said, “It is a testament to what happens when cities and the county get together and pool resources.” Fellow shelter partners echoed that sentiment. Leander Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Seiler, Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan, and Daron Butler, director of business services from Cedar Park and WCRAS board president, each spoke about how beneficial it has been to a part of this collaborative effort.
The expansion area will feature a new adoption center, a public lobby, administration offices, new canine and feline adoption kennels, a new entrance off Wilco Way and parking area for the adoption center, and an exercise yard for dogs. Renovations to the existing facility include a new surgery area and surgical prep rooms, repairs to the A/C and plumbing in 35 existing canine kennels, a feline isolation area, and a laundry area with cleanup station.
“We were crowded when we moved in, but with Cheryl’s leadership and her amazing staff they have made the best use of the space for more than 10 years,” remarked Williamson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey, who has been the County’s representative on the shelter board since it opened in 2007. “This expansion will allow the shelter staff and volunteers to continue to maintain its no-kill status and find forever homes for the animals of Williamson County.”
The expansion project will double the current capacity for cats and add 65 dog kennels. However, Cheryl Schneider, WCRAS director of Animal Services, predicts that the shelter will soon be at capacity after the shelter expansion opens, so she will still be reaching out to her volunteers, donors, and the community to help keep the open admission shelter’s “no-kill” designation. "Our community is awesome. When we put out a call for help, they answer the call every time," stated Schneider. "In one month, we had over 300 cats and kittens in the shelter, which was 100 over capacity. We were unable to adequately care for all of them, so we put out a call for people to adopt a cat for a $1, and people came from everywhere to help. We ran out of adoptable cats!"
The expansion project was designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects with construction by Vaughn Construction for a guaranteed maximum price of $9,499,295. The project is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2019. In order to save time and money, the canine portion of the shelter will be moved to the County’s show barn in San Gabriel Park in late spring 2018. The temporary location will be staffed and will provide dog adoptions at that location.
The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter is the only shelter solely devoted to the lost and abandoned animals of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Hutto, Leander, and Williamson County. The shelter is located at 1855 S. E. Inner Loop, Georgetown, Texas.