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Collin County pet advocates urge commissioners to put animal shelter expansion on November bond

A dog eagerly awaits adoption in an animal shelter.
Collin County pet advocates say the county's shelter is overcrowded.

Most of the Collin County commissioners are in favor of expanding the county’s animal shelter.

Collin County is in the process of approving the propositions for the November bond election, which is expected to be $683.4 million based on the bond planning board’s recommendations.

One of the recommendations calls for spending $5.7 million to expand the county’s animal shelter. The 10,000 square foot shelter serves ten cities, including Frisco and McKinney, as well as the unincorporated areas of Collin County. Plano, Allen and Wylie have city animal shelters.

Plano’s shelter is twice the size of the county shelter according to Frisco’s Pet Project, an animal advocacy group that’s trying to get Frisco to build its own city shelter. Frisco’s bond committee recommended adding money for a city shelter on its May 6 bond election, but the city council decided to not include it.

Animal advocates say the Collin County shelter is desperate for relief. Marla Fields, the administrator of Frisco’s Pet Project, said the shelter has been overcrowded for at least a decade.

“They’re just scrambling,” Fields said. “There’s cages on top of cages.”

She said the shelter was built in 2006 and was supposed to be a holding facility, not a shelter. The county’s population was under 700,000 in 2006 according to the U.S. Census. Today, it’s over 1 million.

Fields said the county’s population growth is contributing to the increase in animals at the shelter.

“For every house, there’s usually an animal to go with it,” she said.

The proposed expansion of the shelter would include a 10,000 square foot addition with four new hallways with 120 kennel runs, a cat quarantine room and a clinic room with two surgery bays. The construction would finish in February 2027 if the bond is passed in November.

Fields said that may not be enough space to solve the shelter’s overcrowding problem.

“Adding an additional 10,000 square feet to Collin County Animal Services, I'm afraid, is just a Band-Aid,” she said.

Fields said the county needs to increase its spay and neuter program and vaccinate more animals in the meantime.

The commissioners court has placed the bond issue on the agenda for next week’s meeting and the budget workshop scheduled for that same day.

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Caroline Love is a Report For Americacorps member for KERA News.

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Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.