Work to start soon on West Jefferson’s new animal shelter _lowres

Rendering provided by Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter -- An architectural rendering shows the planned West Bank animal shelter planned by Jefferson Parish at the corner of Lapalco Boulevard and Peters Road.

Crews will begin work this spring on Jefferson Parish’s new $12 million West Bank animal shelter in Harvey.

The Parish Council on Wednesday approved New Orleans-based Gibbs Construction’s low bid of $9,475,000 for the project. Councilman Ricky Templet said that bid was $228,000 under the projected cost of the 29,000-square-foot building.

The total price tag, which is being paid for with $5 million in bond sale proceeds plus other parish funds, includes ground preparation and engineering work on the 12-acre site at Lapalco Boulevard and Peters Road.

Councilman Mark Spears, whose district includes the site, was one of a number of council members who praised the facility as a major step forward for the parish.

But it’s Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter Director Robin Beaulieu, her staff and the hundreds of animals they take care of at any given time that will reap the rewards of the upgrade firsthand.

The existing facility on Ames Boulevard in Marrero, she said, is 60 years old, and the staff devotes much of its energy to dealing with an outdated space.

“The fact is it’s an old building; it’s barely functional. I’m just looking forward to the day where the outside of the building matches all the progressive stuff my staff is doing on the inside,” she said, noting that the parish’s somewhat newer facility in East Jefferson helps the West Bank shelter deal with the demands on its services.

Beaulieu said the existing location strains to accommodate 80 dogs and doesn’t have the proper facilities to house puppies. The shelter usually doesn’t need to euthanize animals because of space, she said, but sometimes it does.

When the new shelter opens, likely early next year, its capacity of well over 100 dogs and 100 cats will ensure that doesn’t have to happen, she said.

The new facility will have indoor and outdoor “get acquainted” sections for aspiring pet owners and the animals they’re interested in adopting, as well as an adoption room with free-roaming cats.

It also will have a separate isolation ward with its own air system, meaning that puppies that get the disease parvo can be isolated and won’t have to be killed for fear of infecting other animals with the airborne disease.

“We will finally have a facility where parvo won’t be a death sentence anymore,” Beaulieu said.

The new shelter also will have a clinic and a crematorium; euthanized animals now are taken to the landfill.

Council members have talked about creating a West Bank dog park on the property, and Beaulieu agreed that “we certainly will have more than enough room at the site.”

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.