Denison is looking at ways that it can help with housing more stray animals within city limits. The city announced in a news release Tuesday that it is looking at creating a new animal shelter for the city.

The new facility will be operated jointly by Denison Animal Welfare Group and the city of Denison. According to the news release, DAWG will attempt to raise $500,000 towards the $3.5 million estimated cost of the new facility, and the city will consider its funding portion during the 2021 budget talks.

Currently, the city houses animals at the Morton Street Animal Hospital, and last year, the shelter took in nearly 900 dogs and 300 cats. The animal hospital has only 11 dog kennels and nine cat cages.

Animal adoptions are conducted by DAWG out of a city-owned facility located at 3307 Eisenhower Parkway. DAWG took in over 1,600 dogs and cats last year with 1,100 adopted and 500 transferred out of state.

According to a news release, neither facility is suited for expansion.

“Both parties agree a new facility is needed that combines the City shelter facilities and the adoption portion of animal services (DAWG) within the City,” the release read. “In 2019, DAWG purchased property on Morton Street to be the future home of a shelter. DAWG completed a needs assessment and conceptual drawings and floor plans in 2018 from which to begin the design and operational needs of a facility.”

The city and DAWG created an memorandum of understanding to prepare for the new facility. It will be ran similar to the current model where the city owns and operates the shelter with DAWG co-habiting the location to handle adoptions.

“For the past 6 years, DAWG has been diligently working to save the lives of thousands of homeless pets,” DAWG Director Stephanie Phillips said in the release. “We are so excited to partner with the City of Denison to help build a new animal shelter, something that truly reflects the values of the citizens. We know from the support we’ve received that Denison is a city of people that love animals, and a new animal shelter will allow us to help even more animals and the people who adore them.”

The plan will be presented to the city council at its March 16 meeting for approval. Following that the city will issue a request for proposals to begin construction of the facility.

Back in April of 2019, the City Council unanimously approved a zoning change request to allow DAWG to use the 5.8 acre lot at 2212 W. Morton Street site for this intended purpose. At that time, City Manager Jud Rex said the city received no comments from the public on the proposed shelter, and city staff were in approval of the request.

“I think overall the land use is right for that property and it is a good use to the community,” he said.