April 6, 2018 – Dale White
BRADENTON — When philanthropists Edward and Lillian Bishop founded the animal shelter that would share their name 60 years ago, they placed it on a 40-acre campus on the western edge of town — a property with ample space for the facility to expand.
Now, conditions at Bishop Animal Shelter can get cramped. Many of its aging necessities, such as the plumbing and wiring, are not expected to last. Originally constructed to house just dogs, the facility now cares for a growing menagerie of guests, including cats, birds, rabbits and more. At last, the agency intends to take advantage of its undeveloped land and create roomier accommodations.
“We want to make this shelter bigger and better,” director Keith Pratt said. With the county’s human population growing, its numbers of homeless but adoptable pets are likely to do the same, he noted.
The nonprofit affiliated with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals submitted plans to the county to ultimately increase the shelter’s footprint from 22,970 square feet to 149,900. Much of that growth is many years away, but the organization wants to save time and money by getting all of the county approvals at once.
The growth plans it has on hand are to be accomplished in phases during the next three or four years.
The public will first notice a new landscaped entrance accessible to both northbound and southbound traffic on 59th Street West, featuring a 22-foot landmark sign with the shelter logo of dog and cat profiles and an electronic message board.
The 18,000-square-foot kennel building will be partially demolished and remodeled and expanded by 5,000 square feet. Dogs will have access to 104 runs, double the number they now use, and exercise yards of artificial turf. The cat “condos” that now accommodate about 70 felines will be able to house double that number.
Specialty areas will be added for other creatures where space is now especially limited.
“We get chinchillas, prairie dogs, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils,” Pratt said. “You have it, we get it.”
A separate intake building will isolate animals not yet approved for adoption and include three surgeries.
Another education center will have a separate entrance and parking lot off 21st Avenue West “so it can be used after hours,” Pratt said. Events there will accommodate about 200 attendees.
The expansion is to eventually include a separate maintenance building and a pavilion. Additional structures may be planned later, as needed.
“We’re planning to do this slowly, in phases, so as not to interrupt our operations,” Pratt said.
The nonprofit has not announced the potential costs yet. First, it wants to make sure it gets the county’s consent. (The Planning Commission will make a recommendation April 12. The County Commission will have the final say on May 3.)
“If we get the OK, it goes out to bid,” Pratt said.
Zoller Autrey Architects, ZNS Engineering and QDG Engineering Connections continue to work on the designs and specifications.