10/03/07 — New animal shelter is on the way

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New animal shelter is on the way

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 3, 2007 2:16 PM

It might have been the size of the crowd watching and cheering. Or it could have been the fact that several had been told to stop playing in the dirt while the officials made their remarks.

But whatever the reason, it took a few minutes of tentative pawing for Bonnie, Clyde, Asia and Raleigh to begin digging up the ham bones that had been buried as an incentive for them to make the first scratches in the ground that will serve as the foundation for Wayne County's new animal shelter.

And then, when a couple of the dogs continued to struggle, in a move that seemed symbolic of the speakers' goal for the shelter -- a place where people and animals can come together -- their owners bent to help.

It was, said both county officials and members of the Wayne County Humane Society, a fitting way to begin the project.

"What better than to have the animals dig the foundation," county animal control director Justin Scally said.

He told the crowd that one of the reasons he came from Maryland to Wayne County was because of the love for animals that he saw in the community. And, he continued, it is largely because of that dedication that the new facility -- called an animal adoption and education center -- is being built.

"We've had a lot of people working very hard to get this done. We have needed this for so long. It's been a long time coming," Wayne County Humane Society President Susan Tyner said.

But they're not quite there yet, society member Doris Petrak noted.

"I've been working on this for a long time. I have to see this to believe it. I've got to see the cement. I've got to see it finished," she said.

The goal is to have the facility up and running within the next nine to 12 months.

Tuesday's event, though, was the first step.

"Today is a monumental day for Wayne County," society vice president Jean Hollowell said. "I believe when we look back in history, today will be described as one of those significant defining moments for our county.

"It is not only a day when we said a resounding yes to the care and treatment of our companion animals, it is a day when we set the tone and forward thinking pace for the future of this county. Making this kind of progress for the animals makes substantial progress for our citizens and our businesses and industries."

Now, she continued, not only does the $1.8 million center have to actually be built, it also has to be filled with programs and people.

Already, the Humane Society has pledged $150,000 -- along with another $350,000 from other community groups and residents -- to help with the building's bricks and mortar.

Additionally, the society also has pledged that 25 cents of every dollar it raises will go toward various programs for the shelter -- low cost spay and neuter, adoption, foster care, emergency medical care and pet care education.

"This is how we got here folks, but this is just the beginning. There is much more to do," said Barrett Parker, also a Humane Society vice president.

Among the society's fundraisers will be a "Dare to Bare: Petals and Paws" calendar featuring 18 Wayne County women, a raffle to see which prominent county resident gets his head shaved and the selling of commemorative bricks.