The Gillette Animal Shelter staff and the 144 animals that occupy it are waiting for architectural plans to begin the process of remodeling the facility.
The timeline for the work depends on when the designs are complete, a contractor is hired to perform the work and Mother Nature.
Architects are working on the building’s design, which Gillette Public Works Director Sawley Wilde said he hopes will be completed by the end of the month.
Under an ideal scenario, the city would then look for contractors and put a request for bids in early October. The work is projected to take four to six months.
The shelter, which was built in 1997, will have its roof replaced. Animal Shelter Supervisor Erin Lile said professionals who assessed the condition of the roof told her, “You need to relocate” during the renovation.
“Luckily, it only leaks in the front office and garage area,” she said.
Other work includes adding a station in the reception area in the office to allow staff to help more customers and replacing walls with waterproof cinder block inside as water continues to seep in.
That’s “so we don’t have to do this again,” Lile said, adding that so far there has been enough insulation to protect the animals.
The critical part is to get the roof repair done before the weather turns. The rest of the work is inside and could be completed during the winter, Wilde said.
The cost of the renovations is unknown, but it’s covered by insurance and he said estimates may be provided sometime next week.
What to do with the animals
There are now 144 animals at the shelter, which consists of a mix of those up for adoption, strays and foster animals, along with three animal control officers, three shelter assistants and Lile.
Once work commences, they will move across the parking lot to a temporary facility that was once used as storage for the city’s Parks Division. Cats will be upstairs and dogs will be in the basement.
“We won’t want to move until they want to start the next day,” Lile said.
Even with a place to go during the renovations, there are concerns. The sounds inside the temporary structure could create an issue for animals and the building itself, with about half the space, is too small to hold them all.
Lile said to address the spacing issue, the shelter will contact foster places and other facilities to see if they can take some in as work is being done. The shelter also will ask owners who want to send their animals to the shelter to keep them at home temporarily while the agency continues to look for new homes for those pets.
Once work is complete, the temporary structure will be re-used as a shop for maintenance and the shelter can start on other projects like creating a catio, an outdoor enclosure for cats.
In the meantime, “we’re all champing at the bit” to get things going, Lile said.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Livestock Board are getting an increased number of inquiries about harmful cyanobacterial blooms, or HCBs, in Wyoming waters.
These algae blooms typically happen in still or slow-moving water as temperatures increase during the summer. They are episodic and can last for a few hours or a number of months.
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can form blooms that produce toxins and other irritants that pose a risk to human, pet and livestock health. WDH issues a recreational use advisory for publicly accessible bodies of water once DEQ determines that harmful levels of cyanobacteria and/or toxins are present in the water.
DEQ, WDH and WLB are reminding the public to check recreational use advisories by visiting WyoHCBs.org.
Three counties — Albany, Uinta and Sweetwater — have current advisories.
Suspected HCBs can be reported to DEQ by calling the Report a Spill hotline at 307-777-7501 or submitting a complaint online at WyoSpills.org.
At this time, DEQ is only able to investigate and sample waterbodies that are accessible to the public. Private landowners who need to test for HCBs are encouraged to review Wyoming’s HCB Action Plan for more information on simple tests and analytical services.
If an HCB is present, the state recommends the following:
Seek medical attention or a veterinarian if a person or animal is experiencing adverse health effects after exposure to a cyanobacterial bloom.
Young children, pregnant women, people with weak immune systems and animals are especially at risk. Questions regarding general health risks and symptoms related to a cyanobacterial bloom can be referred to Dr. Karl Musgrave, State Public Health Veterinarian and Environmental Health Epidemiologist, at 307-777-5825.