Only five years ago, the county's animal shelter had to euthanize the vast majority of the animals it took in. The live release rate was a meager 15 percent.
That improved to nearly 80 percent last year and more than 90 percent so far this year.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said that rate can only be sustained if they have more space.
"We can't move the pets through fast enough in the facility we have," he said at the groundbreaking ceremony in north Houston. "So that's why if we can get this up and running in the next year, that'll be great."
When the existing shelter was built in 1986, it was designed to hold 12,000 animals a year. In reality, about 18,000 come through each year.
The new facility will double capacity, give dogs and cats more space and have separate entrances for adoptions, admissions and the medical area.
Voters approved the construction in a $24 million bond election in 2015.