Salt Lake County officials broke ground on a $1.3 million animal shelter Tuesday and initiated a new contract to provide animal services for Salt Lake City.

The three-year contract is part of County Commissioner Mike Stewart's hope that animal control can become a countywide service instead of a service broken up city by city.County Animal Services Director Peggy Hinnen said the new shelter, which will be built at the current shelter complex at 511 W. 3900 South, will be large enough to accommodate additional shared-service contracts. The current facility has about 6,800 square feet where the new shelter, which is planned for completion in June 1992, will have 16,000 square feet.

Hinnen said she has already approached West Valley City officials, West Jordan and Sandy about merging their animal control departments as well. Combining departments would make animal control services in the county more uniform and would eliminate duplications in services that would make more money available for adoptions and education programs.

Hinnen described her discussions with West Valley, West Jordan and Sandy as "very, very preliminary" and has spent most of her time over the past several months preparing the contract with Salt Lake City. Beginning Tuesday, the 12 Salt Lake City animal control workers who will become county employees because of the contract will begin making a transition to the county department.

"We haven't set a specific date" for the transition to be complete, Hinnen said. "It will be as soon as possible."