JOURDANTON, Texas – Thanks to financial reserves generated by the oil boom, Atascosa County Commissioners Court didn't have to use tax dollars to build its first animal control facility.
"The oilfield came in. It's given us the opportunity to put more money into better things," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Mark Gillespie.
County Judge Robert Hurley said the $3 million facility will open Oct. 1 in Jourdanton, more than a decade after a city employee drowned five stray dogs at the sewer plant.
Hurley said that incident is in the past.
"Jourdanton has been super to work with. They want to do it right, I promise you, this time," he said.
Hurley said Jourdanton is among the first towns to contract with the county to bring strays to the new multimillion dollar facility.
"Jourdanton is going be one of the first, 100 percent customers," Hurley said.
Lt. Henry Dominguez with the county's animal control division agreed the shelter for 100 dogs and 75 cats, with room to grow, is long overdue.
"Absolutely, it was. We get calls every day at the Sheriff's Office for loose animals, roaming strays, kids being chased by animals," Dominguez said.
He said Atascosa County had become a dumping ground for animals from neighboring Bexar County.
Dominguez said the commissioners and the county judge wanted "to set a standard of care and set an example."
He said they visited other shelters in Kerr, Guadalupe, Kendall and Bandera counties.
"We tried to steal all the good ideas we could find from the people that are already out there," Hurley said.
Gillespie said by taking strays off the streets and neighborhoods -- especially those in rural, unincorporated areas, will be cleaner and safer.
He said it will give the public somewhere to take the animals instead of being abandoned by the side of the road.
"They'll be able to pass the animals along to somebody who will take care of them," Gillespie said.
Hurley said as mayor of Pleasanton, he and other mayors in Atascosa County approached the county commissioners back then about building a county-wide shelter.
"They basically rebuffed us," Hurley said. "This time, I had tremendous support from county commissioners."
Besides having the money to finally build it, Hurley said he believes public attitudes about animal welfare have changed.
"Maybe we've become a little softer and gentler," he said.
The grand opening that is open to public will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at the Animal Control Facility at 292 Spur 162 in Jourdanton.
But the facility will not be taking in any animals until Oct. 1.