Construction of a new animal shelter in Independence should get under way this year. Jackson County legislators on Monday took preliminary action on $5.5 million in bonds for the shelter and are likely to vote on the issue next Monday.

Construction of a new animal shelter in Independence should get under way this year.

Jackson County legislators on Monday took preliminary action on $5.5 million in bonds for the shelter and are likely to vote on the issue next Monday.

The new facility would replace the shelter at 875 Vista Drive that officials have long described as too small.

 The county plans to build the facility on a seven-acre site on Missouri 78 near Metropolitan Community College-Blue River and then enter into a 30-year lease with the city, which would run it.

County Legislator Dennis Waits, D-Independence, is among those who have pushed for a new shelter. He said that across the county about 8,000 animals come into shelters each year, and about half are euthanized.

The new 22,000-square-foot facility will be about three times the size of the one on Vista.

Does that mean saving more dogs’ and cats’ lives?

“Yes – and making conditions much, much better,” Waits said.

He said the ways things are now, Independence ends up bearing the costs of some animal control issues in the county.

“We’re creating an overburden on Independence,” Waits. The new arrangement should address that, he said.

The new shelter would take animals from Independence, the unincorporated parts of the county and possibility cities such as Buckner and Lone Jack.

The project should be put up for bid in about 90 days, and construction could start a couple of months after that.

The current shelter has been a headache for local officials for years.

“It’s no secret we have had concerns with our animal shelter,” Independence City Manager Robert Heacock said last year.

“At times we’ve been challenged and we have responded to those challenges, but it has not been easy,” he said.