As of Jan. 1, 2012, stray dogs picked up in Hellertown will no longer be taken to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare in Williams Township.
Following Borough Council's decision earlier this month to forego renewal of its annual contract with the animal shelter, Hellertown police chief Robert Shupp announced Dec. 19 that a "canine holding facility" is being constructed near the Wagner Grist Mill on West Walnut Street.
The holding facility will be completed before the new year begins, and will be large enough to accommodate two dogs at a time, he said.
He added that the facility will include an outside area that's covered and an enclosed area that's heated.
"It's really nice," Shupp told borough council, adding that dogs held there will have "igloo huts" to occupy.
Shupp proposed the idea of constructing a kennel for stray dogs earlier this year, and the idea was revived after council learned in November that the terms of the no-kill shelter's proposed 2012 contract would be significantly different than the current terms.
Shupp called the proposed contract unacceptable because of changes in the terms that would have dramatically increased costs to the borough, which has had a relationship with the Northampton County shelter for a number of years.
Among the changes were a $50 increase in the drop-off fee for dogs; a requirement that stray cats also be taken to the shelter; and a clause that would have allowed residents to drop off strays, with the borough footing the bill.
On Dec. 19, Shupp told council he has already been approached by residents who've told him they may be interested in adopting a dog from the new canine holding facility, assuming that its owner cannot be located.
In order to help facilitate the adoption of dogs, "we're going to store them there for as long as we have to," he said.
After the meeting, Shupp explained that he also plans to transmit photos of and information about stray dogs not claimed by their owners to members of the public, and possibly local media--including Hellertown Patch. This information could also be posted on the Borough of Hellertown's website, it was noted.