After a delay because initial bids came in higher than expected, Jackson County is proceeding with a new animal shelter. It will be run by the city of Independence and be three times the size of the city’s Vista Drive shelter, which it will replace.

After a delay because initial bids came in higher than expected, Jackson County is proceeding with a new animal shelter. It will be run by the city of Independence and be three times the size of the city’s Vista Drive shelter, which it will replace.

The County Legislature on Monday awarded a $4.85 million contract to R.L. Phillips Construction of Raymore to build the facility near Metropolitan Community Colleges-Blue River in Independence.

Construction could start in the coming weeks, and the facility is expected to open next spring.

“I think this is a project that we’ll be very proud of in the years ahead,” said Legislator Dennis Waits, D-Independence, who has long been an animal advocate and has pushed for the new shelter.

Officials say that about half of the 8,000 animals that come into area shelters each year are put down. In the new, larger shelter, dogs and cats should be more comfortable, and far fewer of them will be euthanized, officials say.

The new shelter will also take animals from some other parts of the county. Even now, some animals from outside Independence end up at the Vista Drive shelter, placing what some call an undue burden on the city.

Waits also said there could be a partnership with Blue River, teaching veterinary technician students, for which there is a high demand.