When Merced County's new animal shelter was originally designed, it was supposed to have a barn to house confiscated large animals.
Because of budget problems, that didn't happen.
But now, because of Merced County Supervisor Mike Nelson, the Merced Ranch Supply and a bunch of local donors, a new barn will soon grace the back of the shelter. Merced Ranch Supply put up bins for people to donate to help build the barn.
The animal shelter, at Castle Commerce Center, has been open since 2009. In the past, when horses and other large animals needed to be housed, the county either had to pay to board them, or use an area behind the shelter cobbled together with metal panels.
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"There was no place for the animals to get out of the rain in these corrals," said Kristi Caseri, animal services supervisor for the animal shelter. She said in the 13 years she has worked at the shelter, 30 to 50 horses have been taken from their owners. At one point, nine thoroughbreds were taken from one owner, and had to be housed at the Merced County Fairgrounds.
"I was going out twice a day in the rain, trying to keep them fed and clean," Caseri said.
The county has gone out to bid for the new barn, and has $51,000 to spend. More than $20,000 of that came from donations, and Nelson used some of his district funds for $30,000 of the cost.
"This is a need that we had planned for, but it wasn't funded," Nelson said. "This was something that needed to get done. My colleagues need to be commended too, because they voted for it."
David Robinson, county agriculture commissioner and the head of the animal shelter, said the county has needed a holding area for large animals for years. Boarding the animals wasn't only expensive for the county, it was tough on employees, he said.
"I had to have an employee go out and feed, water and clean up after the animals," Robinson said. "And some of the boarding places were reluctant to take in the types of animals we had, animals that may have been sick."
The new barn will be an eight-stall prefabricated one with sliding doors at each end, a gable roof and exercise areas connected to the stalls. A gable is the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof.
"This will actually save the county a lot of money because we won't have to be paying to board the animals," Robinson said.
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.