Bowie owners of runaway pets may no longer need to trek down to Upper Marlboro to retrieve their furry friends once Bowie’s expansion of its temporary animal shelter is complete.
When Bowie City Hall was built in 2011, city officials included an animal holding room at the request of nonprofit Bowie Citizens for Local Animal Welfare, which had been stressing the need for a local shelter, said CLAW president Tara Kelley-Baker.
Since that time, the organization has been pushing for a second holding room to increase capacity and separate animal species, but the expansion has proved to be more complicated and expensive than expected, she said.
“Because of that, we decided to bring it to our members and have a discussion about the cost,” Kelley-Baker said. “It’s not exactly what we intended so we’re trying to compromise and work with the city.” Kelley-Baker said her organization thought the first part of the project estimate — approximately $27,000 — representing designs and permits was the full cost, and was surprised when an August city assessment put the final estimate at around $114,000.
Connie Carter, 67, of Bowie said she thinks that money could be put to better use constructing a stand-alone animal shelter for the city – which was CLAW’s original plan more than five years ago.
“I didn’t feel [the temporary shelter] was going to be good enough,” she said. “I was very angry when they [agreed on] the holding room when the taxpayers’ money could have gone to help animals in a different way — through a shelter.”
Carter, who co-runs an animal charity organization called Connie and Teri 4 Animals, said the proposed temporary shelter expenses such as nearly $30,000 budgeted for a washer and dryer purchase and installation could be better spent.
John Fitzwater, Bowie’s assistant city manger, said the temporary holding space at City Hall made more economic sense for the city since the rooms already existed. Fitzwater said the city agreed to move forward with creating the second holding room this fall, but that he doesn’t see lack of space as a concern.
“We have so few animals that really use that facility that the chance of a dog and a cat being in there at the same time are slim. We don’t really have a lot of these strays,” he said. “But I love animals myself as do the City Council and staff and we want to be respectful of the animals’ rights.”
Kelley-Baker said CLAW members will meet in September to make sure they still want to move forward with the project, which she said would allow more animals to stay at the temporary shelter and provide much-needed space between dogs and cats.
Kelley-Baker said the CLAW board is still interested in pursuing the temporary shelter project, but wants to make sure the approximate 40 paying members — who already committed around $30,000 for the first holding room — will be investing wisely.
“Ultimately what we want is a place where Bowie animals can be safe and stay and we want to make it easier on the residents,” she said. “We do hope to see this move forward even if it isn’t exactly what we had in mind.”