“It’s a Cadillac, but it’s simple, too.”

That is how Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord described the new Public Animal Welfare Services building at 99 North Ave. during its unveiling Wednesday.

Animal lovers from across the county crowded into the “state-of-the-art” facility Wednesday afternoon as the ribbon was cut and the new building opened.

The $5.7 million special purpose, local option sales tax project boasts 232 enclosures for animals, a separate area for intakes and adoptions and a medical-grade HVAC system to prevent cross-contamination from sick animals to healthy animals.

“The kennels are also bacteria-resistant,” added McCord. “We’ve built this in the center of Floyd County, and it is streamlined and it is built using the knowledge we gained from the tours we took of other facilities around the state.”

McCord and several other officials took trips to visit shelters, trying to learn what works and what doesn’t, he added.

“We learned a lot about what not to do and we saw some wonderful ideas we brought home,” he said.

County Commissioner Scotty Hancock said he “goes way back” with animal control.

“I started as the director of Floyd County Animal Control,” he said. “My wife and I used to come to the old building at Christmas, putting up a tree and trying to make it look nicer and inviting. We’ve talked for many years about this project, and it is good to see this great facility become a reality.”

Hancock said he hopes to see a culture change in Floyd County.

“I want everything to be as beautiful as this new building,” he said. “They are going to educate the public about animals and how to care for them and be responsible pet owners. This building shows the rest of the state that we are ready to do what it takes to take care of animals in Floyd County.”

David Newby, chairman of the 2013 SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee, said when the discussion about placing a new animal shelter on the list of needed projects came up, it was standing room only.

“We had more people show up for that discussion than any other,” he said. “When we toured the old shelter, seeing is believing. There wasn’t a dry eye when we left, just because it was overwhelming how much those animals needed a new place.”

Newby said he is proud of what the taxpayers have done.

“You see this gorgeous place, it is our tax dollars at work,” he said. “You decided where you wanted that extra penny to go.”

Jessica Lawrence is no stranger to the old shelter, she said.

“I work with Good Shepherd Animal Refuge and we take pictures of the animals in the shelter and try to find them homes at shelters around the country,” she said. “This new shelter is amazing.”

Julia Urda and her mom, Chris Urda, spend time visiting the shelter, holding puppies and loving on them, they said.

“She would take every one of them home to foster if she could,” said Chris Urda as she watched her daughter cuddle one of the puppies. “I love seeing this new facility. It is amazing compared to what we had before. It is like going from a dive to a palace.”

Urda said on her visits, she saw volunteers and workers doing whatever they could to help the animals.

“The old facility was just so old,” she said. “We got our first dog there 13 years ago and another just two years ago. I know the volunteers are happy to see a new shelter, too.”