Dogs inside a holding pen at the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care facility, look for attention as they wait patiently for adoption. They're unaware that BARC will soon be undergoing a major transformation. New design plans were unveiled that has Houston mayor Annise Parker excited.
"This is an interesting and unusual building. It's been problematic since it was built, but the rest of this facility has been patched together. And it was designed to take animals off the street, and hold them until they could be euthanized. It was never really designed as a place for people to adopt animals, a place for the public to come and and be comfortable."
The BARC expansion will take shape on a 2.2 acre tract of land next to the present facility that was purchased in a delinquent tax sale. The plan was laid out in several phases. The first phase will feature a "welcome lobby" with free roaming cat "display windows," 2 dog adoption suites, and an area that will house a low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic.
"The piece that's been missing at BARC is the public. This is not a facility that we wanna hide, but it's not yet a facility that we wanna show off, and that is our goal."
BARC Assistant Director Greg Damianoff explains expansion plans as CM Mike Sullivan and Mayor Annise Parker listen
Funded by $4.1 million dollars in Capital Improvement Project money, Phase-1 amenities also include a courtyard that will serve as a green space with areas for BARC animals to exercise, and get to know potential adopting families. Greg Damianoff is BARC's assistant director. He had a hand in the design of the planned expansion.
"We are the only shelter that has to take all animals, so it changes the whole dynamics of our operation, because we can't say no. The other folks have the luxury of saying 'Well, I don't want that particular dog, it doesn't really...I don't think its gonna work for me.' But here, they come and we simply take what get. We have no option."
He says the new look BARC facility will also be dedicated to outreach and marketing.
"We wanna do stuff with education, you know? We wanna go, like when you get the kids educated about buckling your seat belt and smoking, then they put the heat on their parents and things change, right? But we've gotta start it that way, I think we've got to start with the kids you know, and get them aware of what's going on, that responsible pet ownership is the way to go. Spay and neuter your pet, you know?"
Phase-1 groundbreaking is set for October and will take about 10 months to complete. You can find more information at www.houstonbarc.com.