07/14/08 — County's animal shelter set for August opening

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County's animal shelter set for August opening

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 14, 2008 1:56 PM

When Wayne County's new Animal Adoption and Education Center opens in just a few weeks, it will be a larger, brighter, state-of-the-art facility.

But Animal Control Officer Justin Scally doesn't want the public just to be impressed with a building, he hopes it also encourages people to be more responsible pet owners.

News-Argus/Steve Herring

Animal Control director Justin Scally looks over some of the new cages that will be used to house unwanted and neglected animals at the new county shelter.

Scally and Wayne County Manager Lee Smith attribute a large part of the project's success to community support -- about a third of the project is being privately funded.

A grand-opening ceremony will be held Saturday, Aug. 16, from 9 to 11 a.m. for the $2.2 million, 11,000-square-foot facility occupying almost four acres at 1600 Clingman St.

The event will include a door prize -- a bicycle.

The Humane Society will conduct an educational program geared toward children about pet care. Also on tap are tours and information for pet owners about spaying and neutering and disaster planning for pets.

Smith called the education programs "huge."

Work started on the project Oct. 7 and the shelter is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks, Scally said.

"We are in the process of getting in supplies and making sure everything is working properly," he said.

"The way the community rallied the way it did for a project like this is unbelievable," Smith said. "They came up with between $600,000 and $700,000 in cash -- that's incredible. I have had other counties call and ask me, 'how did you pull it off.' I think people saw there was a need here. It was something people really cared about. They have been unbelievable. People just showed up on our doorstep to help. I have never seen anything like it."

The Humane Society has raised about $120,000 of its $150,000 pledge. It has been selling pavers for $125 and 18-month calendars that began in July for $20. Both may be purchased online or at the grand opening and at the society's Web site at www.wchsfundraisers.org. The last day to purchase pavers will be during the grand opening.

Smith praised Daniels and Daniels Construction Co. for its commitment to the project. Also, officials at McLamb Monument have worked closely with the county on the pavers for the memorial garden, he said.

The company has been letting the Humane Society have the pavers at cost and is doing the work on them at no cost

Photos and information may be placed on the pavers such as a memorial for a pet. The pavers do not have to be placed in the memorial garden.

The new facility, Scally said, is a "big change" from the old 2,000-square-foot facility on Brick Street.

"It is different and much better," he said.

The additional space will allow the shelter to do some things a bit different than in the past, Scally added.

The south entrance will be an intake area where people may bring in unwanted animals. The north one will be for people coming to adopt an animal.

There are separate rooms for persons to interact with the dog or cat they are considering adopting.

One room is set aside for puppies and small dogs. Another area will house dogs ready to be adopted. Sick dogs will be in an isolation room and vicious dogs will be housed in another. There is a similar arrangement for cats, including one room of "cat condos" that come complete with a perch for the felines. Sound baffles in the kennel areas help control echoes.

Other rooms include one where animals can be cleaned up and one that one day could be used for surgeries.

The entire facility has air conditioning and heating.

A memorial garden, located on the north ends of the building might not be completed in time for the open house. However, renderings of the pavers will be available for viewing, Smith said.

"You really have to see it see the difference," Scally said.

Scally, who moved here from Maryland in 2007, said it is a tough job.

"It is good to see the adoptions, but then we see the animal abuse and cruelty," he said.

Pet adoptions are increasing, he said.

The cost is $50 for females (cat or dog) and $35 for males (cat or dog). There is a $40 refund when the female is spayed and $25 when the male is neutered.

Scally said people need to be aware of pet costs -- veterinarian bills, food and having the animal spayed or neutered.

Scally praised local animal rescuers for helping to place animals in foster homes until permanent homes could be found.

Between 6,000-7,000 animals, mostly cats and dogs, come through the shelter every year.

"We want to stress that we just because we are building a bigger shelter that we want to take in more animals," Scally said. "We want people to take better care of their animals. The bigger shelter is not the solution, we need to hit it at the source."