Following a macabre discussion on the disposal of animals at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, commissioners deferred a decision on whether they would purchase a new incinerator or contact for the services.
The information comes after MCAS Director Aaron Johnson presented information to the court in December on the cost to repair the more than 10-year-old unit.
“Currently we don’t have an incinerator that functions,” Johnson explained during the December meeting adding the unit was installed in 2008. “In order to dispose of animals, we need that incinerator to be running.”
Johnson said he is working with the Conroe Animal Shelter in the interim to help with the disposal but noted the Conroe shelter is limited on the number it can process and the size of the animal. MCAS not only processes sick and injured animals at its facility but it also disposes of deceased wildlife, including deer, from around the county.
However, on Tuesday, commissioners were hit with sticker shock after Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo presented bids recommending the court consider a $315,000 bid from Katy-based M Scott Construction Inc. Two other bids, one for $309,000 and the other at $313,000 were rejected, Jalomo said, since the vendors altered the terms of the proposal.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, who lead the charge for Johnson to bring back proposals for a new unit, said the cost for the new one doesn’t make financial sense for the aging building that the shelter has outgrown.
“At some point is it better to sell the damn thing,” he said of the building. “I don’t want to put $315,000 into it.”
County Judge Mark Keough said cost is a factor.
“There is not a person up here that wants to spend $315,000 to incinerate dead animals,” he said.
While Johnson and his staff have worked to rehome most animals that come to the shelter dropping the facility’s kill rate to a fraction, he said intake continues to grow including the volume of deceased wildlife brought to the shelter. He added incinerating deceased animals is the proper way to dispose of them.
Commissioners asked Johnson what Harris County and the city of Houston does with dead animals. Johnson said they contract with a service where the animals are taken to the landfill.
“I kind of like that,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. “What does that cost?”
Keough said the county doesn’t have many options.
“We have no real place for these animals unless we find some county property, dig a hole and pour some kerosene,” Keough said, garnering dismay from fellow court members including Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker who asked if the court could use different terminology to discuss the animals.
The court ultimately asked Johnson and Jalomo to bring back information on the cost of a smaller incinerator and the cost to contract with a company to dispose of animals and how they would dispose of them.