To handle a growing influx of pets, the city of Pflugerville is investing heavily to expand its animal shelter.
In addition to the remodeling and upgrades, the Pflugerville Animal Shelter hired Rhonda McLendon to be its first director. She started earlier this month.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian,” said McLendon, former director of animal control for the city of Lufkin, during a recent tour of the shelter. “I took care of everyone’s pets when they were on vacation.”
McLendon, who has two Chihuahuas and lives in Austin, said one goal will be to increase the ranks of volunteers. The shelter has about 20 now.
“The more people who are involved in the shelter, the better for the animals,” McLendon said.
McLendon arrives at a time when the shelter’s occupancy is growing as the city’s population increases, while the euthanasia rate has steadily declined.
The number of animals at the shelter has grown by about 42 percent since 2008 to 982. Meanwhile, the euthanasia rate dropped to 3 percent in 2012 from 10 percent in 2011.
McLendon said she believes the euthanasia rate has dropped because of the efforts of shelter staffers and volunteers who have been able to better promote adoptions and work with rescue groups.
The shelter, which opened in 1980, is getting three new kennels thanks to an Eagle Scout project. The city already spent $45,000 to turn part of a former fleet vehicle facility into a space for cats.
The revamped space includes large wall murals, cat condominiums, a medical area and a quarantine room.
“They needed more space and something that was inviting for the public,” McLendon said.
Pflugerville is spending $100,000 from its reserves to transform another section of the former fleet building into a training area for staff and volunteers. The renovations will begin in a few weeks, McLendon said.
The city’s animal shelter and animal control services are part of the Pflugerville Police Department. The city has budgeted $70,000 for the shelter in the current budget, excluding salaries and operating expenses, which are part of the overall police budget. The shelter has four full-time and two part-time staffers.
The shelter also will hire two part-time kennel technicians this year, as well as begin accepting credit cards for adoptions, McLendon said.
As part of the upgrades, McLendon said the shelter is using a Web-based animal shelter management program that will better market the animals. In January, it started posting photos and information about pets on Petango.com, which also is used by Austin Pets Alive!, the Elgin Humane Society and Bastrop County Animal Control and Shelter.
McLendon said the city might add the shelter to the Pflugerville mobile app that is being developed.
The shelter will continue to venture out with weekend adoptions events at various pet stores and with its new dog walking program. Pflugerville spent about $29,000 for a mobile animal adoption trailer, which will be used for emergency management purposes and during large events. McLendon said she used a similar trailer in Lufkin.
“It just draws crowds every time,” McLendon said.