The Jefferson County Animal Shelter will be getting new kennels after funding was approved by the Madison City Council at its meeting on Tuesday along with funding from the Jefferson County Commissioners.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, approval was given to move $5,000 from the general economic development fund and $5,000 from the rainy day fund for a city contribution of $10,000 toward buying 20 new kennels, estimated to cost $1,000 each. Later in the meeting, County Commissioner Bobby Little, who was in attendance, announced that the Commissioners will provide the other $10,000 for the purchase.

Hannah Fagen, the city’s director of community relations who was recently appointed to the county’s Animal Shelter Advisory Board, said the kennels now available at the shelter were “very dangerous for the dogs.” She said advisory board member Dr. Joy Barron, veterinarian and owner of the Madison Animal Clinic, has found kennels that have bite guards, top coverings, and are much safer for the dogs, and that the shelter board wants to order 20 of those kennels.

She said the new kennels will also be a way to keep dogs safely outside while the shelter is being cleaned, and to give them some outdoor time. “I appreciate the Mayor and the city for providing funding for the kennels,” said Fagen.

Fagen also provided an update on improvements being made to the animal shelter over the last month after the previous shelter director went on medical leave.

“We were in a dire situation,” said Fagen, noting concerns about conditions at the shelter, and whether cats and dogs were being fed. Since then Fagen said conditions have improved and efforts are currently underway to hire an interim director with interviews scheduled for this week.

She said the advisory board needs to work toward reviewing the interlocal agreement for the animal shelter between the city and the county. “There might be some changes we need to make,” said Fagen, adding the last time it was reviewed was in 2007.

Fagen said the land and lease agreement needs to be reviewed — the city owns the land where the animal shelter is located but the county owns the building — since there was little awareness by the city that it owned the land until recently. She said city workers have recently cleaned up the area around the shelter.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said “a tremendous amount of progress has been made in a very short time” and emphasized there needs to be a commitment to the animal shelter.

“The animal shelter has gone unnoticed for a really long time,” he said, commending action by several people “that in a short period of time a lot of corrective action has already been taken.”

Little thanked city council for Fagen’s appointment to the advisory board.

“She’s the spark we needed. Thanks to the mayor, the council and the city for the donation for the kennels,” Little said. “I spoke with the other two commissioners and they’re in agreement we’re going to put up the other half up for the kennels. With the strides we have made since Sept. 4, I was sick” by the conditions at the animal shelter. “I didn’t know what we were going to do, but we’re going to get there,” and progress is being made, but it’s going to take some time. “We are really on the road to recovery.”