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Hall County Animal Shelter opening delayed again
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Mike Ledford, Hall County Animal Services Director, looks over some of the cat cages Wednesday at the new Hall County Animal Shelter. - photo by The Times

Hall County’s Animal Shelter was scheduled to open today but will now postpone opening until Oct. 15.

The later date delays not just the new shelter, but the humane society’s ability to begin operations as a selective admissions shelter.

Rick Aiken, president of the newly renamed Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, said the delay has been difficult for the organization, which originally hoped to be working independently from the county July 1.

"It’s a huge inconvenience but we’re working around it," Aiken said. "We understand that during construction delays always happen."

Hall County Animal Control Director Mike Ledford said there is only a little left to do before the Barber Road shelter is complete.

"We’re down to mostly cosmetic stuff," Ledford said. "We’re at the point where they’re right now developing the punch list."

Ledford said heavy rain throughout the year has caused a much slower construction schedule than expected.

One of the final projects, paving the parking lot, had to be delayed last week due to heavy rain.

"Mother nature has conspired against us," Ledford said.
"Obviously we didn’t want the delay but it’s something we can work with and be more sure that we’re providing a quality service when we open up."

County officials are certain they can be out of the Humane Society facility by Oct. 14.

The two groups originally settled on July 1 as the date Hall County would begin operating its own shelter and no longer use the Humane Society facility on West Ridge Road. The shelter opening date was later moved to September, then to Oct. 1 and now to Oct. 15.

Aiken said this is the last time the Humane Society will agree to extend the separation date. The organization is holding the "Life Saver" launch party on Oct. 24 to introduce the community to its new mission as a selective admission shelter.

"We have agreed on Oct. 14. We can’t go any longer than that," Aiken said.

Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton said the county has encountered a number of problems from the beginning of the construction process. "We had to start a new business in a year’s time," Sutton said. "We had not been in the shelter business before."

The construction delays due to weather have also been hard on the county financially.

They have continued to pay the Humane Society around $62,000 a month to use the facility, and this month the county will pay about $46,000 to use the shelter for an additional two weeks.

"Times are tough," Sutton said. "Everything we spend is a concern."

Despite the issues that have occurred since the Humane Society and Hall County decided to split, Aiken said the tone has stayed positive.

"It’s been stressful on them and it’s been stressful on us but it’s stayed civil," Aiken said.

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