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Representatives from four towns have begun discussions to create a regional animal control facility that could house cats, dogs and other animals from New London, Waterford, Montville and East Lyme.
Each town would maintain its own animal control officers and departments, but the facility, which could provide as many as 34 kennels, would be shared, according to Tammy Daugherty, New London's director of development and planning, who is heading up the consolidation efforts.
New London, Waterford and Montville have dog pounds that pre-date state building codes for animal control facilities, and all three need to be updated. East Lyme does not have its own facility, instead sharing space with Waterford.
"This really is a good thing,'' Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward said. "To me it sounds logical."
The group is discussing whether to renovate an existing facility in one of the towns, or to build a new one.
New London and Waterford both own property on Route 85 which could be a central location, according to both town representatives.
"One of the things we're trying to be mindful of is (that) we want the facility to be attractive for folks to come and adopt the animals, but it will still be a municipal facility, not a private rescue facility,'' Daughtery said.
"We want it good quality, but we don't need a Cadillac,'' Montville Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel said.
The cost of a facility has not been determined.
Waterford's shelter, on Route 1 near the town police department, is about 50 years old, Steward said. It shares its 10 stalls with East Lyme and there are usually about five dogs in the kennel from each town, he said.
Steward said Waterford and East Lyme have been working together for two years to raise money to build a new kennel. He said the two towns have raised about $120,000. Some of the funds could go toward planning and construction of a new facility, he said.
Montville's animal shelter is at the public works complex on Maple Avenue and also is in need of repair. The mayor, who was not sure how many dogs are housed at the facility, said he welcomes a discussion to create a centralized shelter.
"As we continue to make efforts as a region to pull together, we are pursuing regional solutions that make sense,'' McDaniel said. "It certainly makes sense to pool our resources and find a collaborative solution."
In New London, animals have been housed at surrounding towns' facilities since a tree fell on the Bates Woods dog pound during a storm last October.
Michael Martin, a New London animal control officer, made it safely out of the building, as did the seven dogs being held there. They were saved by the building's cinder-block walls.
The public works department recently finished repairing the Bates Woods facility, including putting on a new roof, but it remains closed.