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The Burnet County Commissioners Court will soon seek bids for a new county animal shelter after accepting a $15,000 donation for designs during its April 25 meeting. The shelter is planned for county-owned property near the jail, where an inmate-canine care program could be developed. It would be the first county-owned-and-operated animal shelter. 

County resident Pat Dickey, who has been working with commissioners on building a shelter, secured the donation from Horseshoe Bay resident Ida Darlene Ellison. 

In her presentation to commissioners, Dickey referred to Hill Country Humane Society Director Paighton Corley’s assessment of the need for a county shelter.

“The current animal shelter facilities in the area are inadequate to meet the current and future needs of the community,” Corley was quoted in Dickey’s proposal. “(The facilities) are often overcrowded and under-resourced.”

The Hill Country Humane Society, which serves as the animal intake facility for both Burnet and Llano counties, is consistently overwhelmed and at maximum capacity. 

Plans for the new shelter are in the beginning stages.

“The size and scope of the animal shelter, I can’t tell you,” Commissioner Joe Don Dockery told “But now we’ve got something to work with, and we can take our first steps (toward construction).”

Along with the need for more robust animal welfare facilities in the area, Dickey cited the potential benefits of teaming with the Burnet County Jail to create an inmate-canine care program.

“I think if we can put this together, it would be a star in everyone’s crown,” she said.

Dickey also sought the expert opinion of forensic psychiatrist William Reid of Horseshoe Bay, who provided a short paper on the benefits of canine care programs for inmates. 

“The programs involve inmates caring for, and sometimes training, dogs both within facilities and — particularly with jails — in the community,” reads an excerpt from Reid’s paper. “One objective is to prepare the (dogs) for adoption or canine jobs. The broader correctional goal is to rehabilitate offenders and decrease recidivism by the inmates who participate.”

Money for the animal shelter’s construction could come from an assortment of grants, private donations, and the county budget, Dockery said.

“We would look at all avenues of funding,” he said.