The drive for a new Chatham-Kent animal shelter is about to ramp up a notch, according to co-chairman Art Stirling.
“We’ve spent the last few months organizing our various committees from governance, fundraising, communications and volunteers,” he said. “We are now in the position to begin reaching out to the citizens of Chatham-Kent.”
Even though the group hasn’t been actively seeking funds, it has already raised about $150,000 of its $2 million goal.
The latest contribution came in the form of a $10,000 cheque from Dr. Kerry Mall and Krista Mall of D.M.S. Veterinary Centre.
“We just want to give back to the community,” Krista said. “We know there is a major need. We hear it from our clients that they’re upset at what we have now.”
Stirling said the current facility, built in 1974, has been an embarrassment to the community for years.
Plans call for the new shelter to be built on municipal property to the northeast of the current building at the corner of Park Avenue and Hyslop Street.
The shelter is operated by the Ontario SPCA, however, that group is not involved in fundraising for the new facility.
“Donors need to be aware that money given to the Ontario SPCA will not be used for the new facility,” he said. “The SPCA is supportive of building a new shelter but they won’t help raise money for it.”
Stirling said there have been “years of pent up clamour about the shelter, the growing deterioration of the facility and the overcrowding. If you are someone concerned about the issue, now is the time to act.”
He said his group is still looking for volunteers, donors and anyone willing to help.
“We believe the best chance for the shelter to be built is through the effort of the entire animal loving community,” he said. “We have a role for everyone.”
He said the group is at least a year away from breaking ground on the new facility that was approved by Chatham-Kent Council following a presentation by Stirling and co-chair Marjorie Crew last year.
The committee’s goal is to have the facility built and paid for within two to three years and then turn it over to the municipality which would then bear maintenance costs.
Plans call for a 6,000 plus square foot facility with dog kennels, cat rooms, a veterinary treatment room and other up to date features now lacking.
It will double the size of the current building through which some 2,000 animals pass through each year.
Prior to its report to council, the group undertook consultations with municipal staff, OSPCA authorities, members of other area groups working in animal care, the local veterinary community, marketing experts, qualified construction project managers, and others.
The group toured other animal shelters across the province. They eventually identified a shelter in Bracebridge as a model for Chatham.
Krista Mall said she believes the community will come through.
“We’ve grown from one location to three in only six years and now we’re opening on Sunday due to demand from our clients,” she said. “This is a very animal friendly community.”
Anyone interested in donating can call 519-360-1998, visit any municipal centre, or log onto www.newanimalshelterck.com
for more information.