City council takes first step to update Burlington animal shelter

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Five-thousand animals come through the doors of the Burlington Pet Adoption Center every year.

But as the need for the shelter's services grows, the building, built in the 1960s, has not.

"It's certainly a challenge for our staff," said Jessica Arias, the shelter's director. "It's very old. And it's not very efficient, the design or layout. It's really a struggle."

When you walk into the Pet Adoption Center, the issue of overcrowding greets you at the door. Litters of kittens fill cages in the lobby and a dog, without a kennel space, sits behind the receptionist's desk.

But Tuesday, the Burlington City Council created a study committee to examine the needs of the shelter, and a potential renovation or expansion.

Councilman Jim Butler, who serves on the committee, says his colleagues recognize the needs of the shelter.

"I think it's a definite that all aging facilities are going to have to be rebuilt or renovated at some time, and the shelter is certainly at the top of the list," Butler said.

Butler said the committee will explore whether renovation or a complete rebuild would make more financial sense.

"We've kind of patched that thing along to the point that we really have to take a look at it now and see what to do," Butler said.

A renovation or expansion would be funded jointly by the City of Burlington as well as other Alamance County municipalities.