Minneapolis’ new animal shelter opens June 12

Bigger, better quarters expected to reduce number of sick and euthanized animals

The Minneapolis Animal Care and Control Program's new facility at 1705 N. 2nd St. -- triple the size of the city's existing shelter -- has just been completed. An open house to celebrate the new facility will be held Saturday, June 12 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, offering the public tours of the state-of-the-art building.

City officials say one-third to half of the 5,000 lost, stray and recovered animals it took in each year were euthanized because the shelter was too small or the animals were deemed too ill or dangerous to save. The new $3.3 million facility will cut those deaths, by improving animal health, officials say.

Program Manager, Bob Marotto said the previous facility -- housed in a shabby cinderblock structure and an on-site trailer at 506 11th Ave. N. -- perpetuated health problems by allowing sick animals to crosscontaminate healthy ones.

The previous building did not have a hospital ward and often lumped different species together because it was so small. The new shelter separates animals by species and health -- with a new hospital ward and special rooms for sick dogs and cats.

Great care was taken in the design of the dog facilities, which are separated by size. The dog kennel is divided in half so the dog can go from one side to the other while kennel cleaning is underway and the waste is flushed away. At the old building, staff had to take the dogs from one end of the building to the other to do the kennel cleaning.

An individual airflow system was set up in the new dog kennels and in each cat cage. Marotto said this ensures animals aren't breathing each other's air, reducing the transmission of diseases such as kennel cough or bordetella. To minimize animal stress, which also improves their health, Marotto said designers incorporated natural light via glass blocks into much of the animal holding area. Soundboards to minimize the echo of barking were also installed.

"It puts us right at the [cutting] edge of animal husbandry and animal care in shelters today," said Marotto.

The shelter's architect, Dan O'Brien, with Inver Grove Heights-based Krech, O'Brien, Mueller & Wass, Inc., said of Minneapolis' building, "There's nothing like this in the country."

O'Brien, whose firm specializes in animal care facilities, said he and Marotto toured numerous facilities and worked with veterinary staff at the University of Minnesota to design the shelter. O'Brien said the shelter should sustain the city far beyond its 50-year goal.

The animal-control program also runs animal control dispatch and pet licensing from the shelter.

Future plans for the animal-control program include launching a Web cam system, allowing residents to see found or adopted animals online. For more information about the program, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/animal-control/.