Space is a premium at the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter, but soon there will be plenty more room.
The city held a groundbreaking ceremony recently for a new medical and surgical center for the shelter. It will be funded through private donations given to the shelter’s Giving Second Chances capital campaign.
The new center is expected to be more than 2,000 square feet with two surgical rooms, and could allow up to four tables to be in operation at once. The current facility is a single room with less than 300 square feet.
“We’ve got animals everywhere, countertops, floors, there just isn’t enough space,” said Dustin Deel, City of Weatherford Director of Municipal and Community Services. “We take care of pretty much anything breathing in Parker County that is not human.”
The campaign is still seeking about $150,000 to start construction on the medical and surgical center. There is an additional $250,000 that is needed to construct an outreach center/classroom. Naming rights are available for certain levels of donors.
“We’re going to make this happen,” Deel said. “We’re right here at the finish line.”
The Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter serves both urban and rural communities, giving aid to those who may not have easy access to basic veterinary care and those who may not understand the impact their pets have on the local community. Their service area consists of almost the entire county, which is more than 900 square miles.
The shelter’s existing medical center was not built to accommodate the current load of 80-120 surgeries each week, Deel said. However, he noted that is what it has taken to meet the current needs of the community.
Dr. Kent Glenn, a veterinarian at the shelter, said the new center is a must given how folks in Parker County have a fondness for animals.
“Parker County is a very animal-centric community. We have a lot of people here who love animals,” Glenn said.
Deel said the shelter has a 96 percent rate of returning animals to the community, qualifying it as a “no-kill shelter.”
The day was also a chance to remind the community, of which a couple hundred were in attendance, including a number of dignitaries, of the recent partnership between the city and Weatherford College. The two entities recently announced they are partnering with the goal of raising both the vet care and animal standards in the county, as well as expanding educational and career opportunities in the community through an innovative and perhaps one-of-a-kind partnership.
Deel said the union is believed to be the first such in the state.
The partnership will enable Weatherford College to offer a new associate degree in veterinary technology to students looking to become registered veterinary technicians. These types of programs are expensive and difficult for colleges to offer due to capital requirements, staffing and liability.
However, Deel said these are all responsibilities the shelter currently takes on regularly. So as students earn their degrees they will also be bringing more help to the shelter as sort of an internship.
The college will also be contributing an X-ray machine, sonography equipment and more.
“Once again, the innovative people of Weatherford and Parker County are leading the way,” Weatherford College President Dr. Tod Farmer said.
“This is so fantastic. Space is very much needed, and has been for a long time,” said Vivian Tighman, a volunteer for the shelter for seven years. “I’ve seen a ton more intakes, and we do everything we can to move them — and volunteers adopt a whole lot of them.”
City Manager Sharon Hayes said, “This is something the city is very, very proud of. This shelter is a story of success.”