A proposed new county animal shelter planned in the Meadows community is one step closer to a reality after receiving zoning approval from the county commissioners last week.
Veterinarian Debbie Cowan, who has helped spearhead the project, said the Friends of the Stokes Shelter would lease a piece of property near the old prison camp for a nominal amount.
“We will take the existing building down and put in a 90-foot by 40-foot metal building,” she said, noting that demolition is expected to begin in July and the new structure should be ready for operations by December. “We will be able to house 20 dogs and 15 cats.”
She said the shelter would be mainly staffed by volunteers, with one paid position.
“We will do a lot of landscaping around it so there are noise barriers,” she added.”We are going to make it very pretty so people will want to come and adopt animals. We are hoping that we can do a dog walking park as well.”
The new shelter will still have to adhere to all state regulations, which will limit the number of animals it can house.
“The goal is that once it is going the animal control officers can drop off strays and we will charge a per diem to the county for three days, after that the animals will become ours,” said Cowan. “Our goal is to be a modified no-kill shelter, which means that if an animal is injured we will have to euthanize it, or if it is extremely aggressive and we can not foster it out it will be euthanized. But we don’t want to have a bunch of puppies and kittens that are being killed right and left simply because there are too many of them.”
She said the Friends of the Stokes Shelter were working on developing networks with other shelters to share animals that have not been adopted instead of euthanizing them.
She hopes all animals adopted from the shelter will be spayed and neutered.
“We have been doing that with the Stokes Animal Shelter and it has been working well,” she said, noting that adoption fees had recently increased to cover the cost of the procedure as well vaccinations and screening for diseases. “A free animal is never free. We found that a lot of the animals that were being turned in, the parent dog had been adopted from the shelter. The owners adopted it for $20 then it had puppies and they brought them to the pound. It was a a revolving door.
“If you cannot afford $100 for a pet then you are not going to be able to afford to care for it,” she added. “It costs between $100 and $150 each year for a pet to get their vaccines and preventative care. If you don’t have that then you don’t need a pet.”
Funding in place for construction, more needed for operation
Cowan said the Friends of the Stokes Shelter had raised over $195,000 in the past three years, enough to construct the new shelter and pay for staff an utilities for the first year.
But she said the total fundraising goal was $400,000, noting that that figure would be needed to ensure long-term operations at the facility.
“We have a big fundraiser planned for August,” she said, adding that large donors could have naming options for the shelter or individual kennels or rooms within it. “Last year at our major fundraiser we raised $45,000. This year the fundraiser will be in Sandy Ridge. We are trying to move it around the county. It is still $100 a ticket and that is a tax deductible donation to the shelter.”
She said this year the Shelter Benefit, planned for August, 20, would be more casual with live music and both a silent and live auction.
“I will also be doing a brief 15 minute synopsis of where we are and where we are going,” she said. “We will also be having Don Richardson come out and lead us in line dancing.”
Cowan said the shelter is also trying to line up volunteers for operations.
“We are looking for whatever time you have,” she said. “If you have one or two hours you would be able to help then we might get you walking the dogs. If you have three hours then we might have you help clean the dogs. It depends on what the person wants to do and how much time they can commit. Every little bit helps.”
She said the shelter would also be seeking food donations, but noted that it would be better to donate money designated for pet food purchases than donating pet food.
“When you have housed animals, you are better off doing the same food every day,” she explained, noting that the shelter would also likely be able to stretch funding by buying in bulk.
To volunteer, donate, or purchase tickets for the 2016 Shelter Benefit, contact Cowan at the Animal Hospital of Walnut Cove.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.