Info on proposed animal shelter shared

About 80 persons attended informational meetings last week to hear details of the proposed animal shelter. Don Orris, who stepped in two years ago to help PAWS volunteers in their quest for a new building, conducted the meetings.

The final proposal is very similar to what has been discussed in recent months. The shelter would be on property donated by Greene County Development Corporation south of the AAI/Spalding plant west of Highway 4. The building would be about 400 yards from the office of dentist Keith Van Beek and about 600 yards from St Joseph Cemetery.

Cost to build the facility is $1,340,000. No public funds will be used for construction, but once complete, it will be owned and maintained by the city of Jefferson.

Don Orris with the site plan for the animal shelter and dog park

The actual building will be 3,666 square-feet, not including including a garage and a front overhang. It will have 12 dog kennels and four dog isolation kennels, with each kennel having its own outdoor run. There will be 12 cat cages and two cat isolation cages. The cat cages are three-level cages so the cats have space to climb.

A spacious clinic/exam room, a room for animal grooming and laundry, a welcoming reception space, a quiet room for potential adopters to meet animals and other spaces are in the plans, too.

In the early drafts of the plan a dog park was named as a “someday” project. The dog park is now included. “We heard from a lot of people that a dog park is something they really want, so we’ve added it in,” Orris said. The parcel is more than 4 acres, providing space for separate fenced areas for large and small dogs. It will be available for public use on an annual membership basis.

Orris first showed pictures of the current facility. “Part of the problem is that people haven’t been to the facility so they don’t know how bad it is,” he said.
The building is woefully undersized. Dog kennels are rusting and there’s no way to close the doors to the outside runs. The dog room is warmed by two space heaters. In cold weather, water dishes freeze in the kennels.

The cat room is even smaller, and because space is so tight, the cats are allowed to co-mingle, violating state regulations.

“The building was in bad shape in 1977 and it’s in even worse shape now,” Orris said.

Orris shared an operating budget that shows $80,000 in annual revenue, including $35,800 from the city of Jefferson and $15,000 from Greene County. The commitment from the county equates to about $5 per capita. The committee is discussing with county towns a $1,000 annual fee to be able to use the shelter. The necessary 28E agreements are still being drafted.

Annual expenses are also tagged at $80,000. That includes a part-time director and other hourly employees with wages and employment taxes totaling $43,000. The two other larger expenses are veterinary at $12,000 annually and utilities at $10,000.

Fundraising for construction will begin in March. “1.34 million is a lot of money to raise. It’s going to take a lot of donations, including large ones, to get there,” Orris said.

The committee has identified naming opportunities for several areas with donations ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. The budget is broken down item by item, and according to Orris, if someone wants to donate $1,628 for a dog kennel, for example, the donor’s name could be posted over it.

The Jefferson city council at its Jan. 9 meeting approved the resolution needed to begin accepting donations for the shelter. Checks should be payable to City of Jefferson – Greene County Animal Shelter Project. Donations will be kept in a separate city fund and are tax deductible.

The city has also agreed to set up automatic bank debits for donors who want to stretch a pledge out over a length of time.

ShineOn Designs will soon have fundraising T-shirts in the shop on the north side of the courthouse square. Greene County High School students are working on the design, and a generous portion of the purchase price will go to the building fund.

“We hope people will buy these T-shirts, not only so we can make some money from them, but to raise awareness of the project,” Orris said.

Orris plans to do similar informational meetings in towns around Greene County. He is available for organizations and to talk with anyone interested. He can be contacted at 515-386-2224.

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