New shelter opens

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, July 9, 2011

Retired Isle of Wight County animal control chief Wilbur Sullivan cuts the ribbon on the new 6,300 square foot animal shelter facility while county supervisors JoAnn Hall, left, Kenneth Bunch, Al Casteen, IOW sheriff Charlie Phelps and supervisors Thomas Wright and Stan Clark look on. -- Dale Liesch

ISLE OF WIGHT—Retired Isle of Wight County Animal Control Chief Wilbur Sullivan experienced Christmas morning on a steamy day in July.

That’s because nearly six years after he took over the animal control division of the sheriff’s office, he cut the ribbon on Thursday for a new $1.2 million shelter.

“It’s a great improvement over what we had,” Sullivan said. “Having air conditioning alone is an improvement.”

The 6,300-square-foot shelter is four times larger than the old facility. It houses 44 dogs and 60 cats, and has a grooming room and office space for five, said interim chief Robert Barlow.

“The biggest difference is the structure and the ability to take better care of the animals,” Barlow said.

Sheriff Charlie Phelps said the department hopes to have the shelter fully occupied by the end of next week.

Sullivan, who retired in April, said the goal was to make the shelter more people-friendly, which could ultimately lead to more adoptions.

“With the other kennel, when you walked in, it smelled bad,” he said. “It was not conducive to have people come in. The animals will be in better condition, and they won’t be as aggravated by hot and cold.”