Bill Meade discusses plans for an animal shelter in Texas County.

A national expert in planning for animal shelters told a group Saturday in Houston that the creation of a county-wide facility is attainable with a partnership from governments and the ambition of its organizers.

Bill Meade, who oversees Shelter Planners of America, told those gathered at the Houston Lions Club Den that organizers of The Animal Shelter of Texas County are on the right track to create the county’s first such facility.

“I’m amazed at the turnout tonight,” Meade, a former director of planning for the Humane Society of America, told the crowd.

Meade’s firm, which has 12 offices across the country with one in St. Louis, has worked with about 700 shelters in the United States, providing a variety of services. Gone are the days, Meade told the group, when dark and gloomy dog pounds with odor ruled. Today, animal shelters are positive ventures for communities wanting to make a difference in helping animals and controlling the pet population, he said. Over the years, animal shelters have grown as a positive influence, and many organizations are flush with funds after residents included them in their estate planning.

Meade’s arrival in the county is part of a needs assessment that includes compilation of several pieces of data, including:

  • Demographic information and statistics.
  • Studying the people population and animal levels. Meade says based on the region’s population, about 1,200 animals would be served here annually. Using recent data, Meade said the local group is on track to aid about 900 animals in its first year.
  • Helping with the number of staff required and operating budget.
  • Design services, which include interior features and animal capacity. Meade showed several designs that the company has completed. Most of those include an interior court and a design that minimizes noise – both inside and outside.
  • Proposed spaces and square footage.
  • Budget estimates.

Meade spent Saturday learning more about the area and its needs. Eventually, Meade’s not-for-profit corporation will develop a schematic design for a facility that could include about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of space on a 20-acre tract on East Highway 17. Those attending the meeting saw pictures of several types of facilities and unique features developed by the company.

Meade, a native of Virginia who started in architectural work and travels throughout the country, became involved in the care of pets when he visited an animal shelter during a holiday season. He explained that he asked the local organization if he could volunteer there, and he eventually became president of the endeavor. His 30-year career is recognized across the country for creating shelters that are not only friendly for animals, but provide an atmosphere that is attractive for visitors wanting to adopt a pet.

Meade, a California resident, urged those assembled to partner with governmental bodies to help launch the project. He suggested a program to tag pets and create a database that makes it easy to find owners of lost pets. Eventually, the group might want to look at a licensing program that would generate an income stream that would aid in the organization’s budget. The group also might want to look at offering programs for pet owners, grooming and feed supplies, as well as boarding services, he said.

Ultimately, city and county governments should look at its role in the project. “This is not a special-interest group,” he said. “Animal control is a public service.”

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