The city of Denison held a news conference Thursday to discuss a recent partnership it entered into. Denison will be working with the Denison Animal Welfare Group to construct a new 12,000-square foot facility it says will help the saves lives.

The new shelter is expected to cost $3.5 million dollars with DAWG providing $500,000 and the city providing the rest. Phillips said she expects it to be at least 18 months before DAWG can move into the new shelter. She said since it’s something they have been working on for six years she doesn’t mind the wait. She said she just wants to save as many animals as possible.

DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said while DAWG tries to find homes for all animals it takes in, some do end up falling through the cracks, and with a larger shelter, the nonprofit could provide behavioral training for some dogs that are difficult to adopt while also providing isolation for animals with parvo and other diseases.

“We want to save the lives of as many animals as we can,” Phillips said Thursday. “If we have a little more space and a little more time to work with the animals, bring in trainers to help correct some behavioral issues. We currently save 98 percent or better of all the animals that come into the city pound. There are animals like neonatal kittens, behaviorally challenged dogs or dogs that are fearful. Sometimes we aren’t able to save those because we don’t have enough time to work with them. One of the things that is most exciting to me is being able to close that gap to save all the animals we can. Some need a little more time or medical care.”

Keeping sick animals away from the rest of the population will help, Phillips said. And, having the additional space will allow the shelter to help the animals that previously would have required more resources than DAWG was able to provide.

“It is the culmination of a dream and six years of really hard work,” Phillips said. “We’ve always wanted to see the city have a shelter and pound facility in one building. We’re really excited to see it move forward.”

DAWG is still facing overcrowding issues. Typically, the way DAWG handles those issues is to transfer animals to other shelters. DAWG tends to send out animals 2-3 times a month with trips of as many as 80 animals each time.

The City Council will consider a draft memorandum of understanding on Monday night that will spell out the expectations and responsibilities of both entities.. The city will work on putting together a request for proposals to begin the next steps in the process before construction on the new facility can begin.

“We will be co-housed in the same location so it will be better more efficient delivery of services to the community,” Phillips said. “We will be able to house a larger number of strays. It will keep our city safer.”

The current shelter is 2,000 square feet, and DAWG doesn’t accept animals from the public. It receives it animals from the Morton Street Animal Clinic which serves as the city’s animal shelter. The new facility will move the city pound and DAWG into the same facility with room for new programs. Phillips said this will promote public safety.

“We’re super excited to work with the city, the city is a great partner for DAWG and we’re excited to bring better services to the citizens of Denison.”

Phillips said DAWG maintains a public food pantry to help feed pets. She said there isn’t enough space for that. Other benefits include a public education room that will allow the shelter to educate people on animal care and health.

Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd can be reached by sending email to rtodd@heralddemocrat. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.