The biggest issues Dorchester Paws currently face are installation and maintenance issues, as well as constant overcrowding.
To address these issues, the shelter is trying to raise funds to build a new facility and hopes to achieve its goals through a fundraising campaign launched in February.
With Dorchester County having already contributed $ 1 million, the shelter is close to achieving its goal.
Dorchester Paws Acting Executive Director Maddie Moore said at that point when the fundraising campaign kicked off it was more of a ‘private burden’ that had finally been handed over. public.
The shelter moved from Frances R. Willis SPCA to Dorchester Paws in 2017, and Moore said shelter officials quickly realized the shelter move was becoming more urgent.
Since September 1, Dorchester Paws has been forced to close the shelter three times due to flooding.
“When heavy rains are expected to hit Low Country, our shelter staff begin to act as early, quickly and as proactively as possible,” said Moore. “At Dorchester Paws, shutting down means refusing animals that need it while staff operate in ’emergency mode’ which means we pile up sandbags, shovel puddles that form in our kennels. and hallways in minutes, enlisting our First Defense Fosters, and skeletal shifts to ensure animals are taken care of during storms.
During this time, hurricanes and major storms often mean that the entire dog and cat population at the shelter must be placed in temporary foster homes or transported to other shelters. Moore said the condition and perception of the building has a devastating ripple effect, as families who visit hoping to adopt a pet see it as “a depressing refuge” and decide to look elsewhere.
“A lot of times they make these judgments before they even walk in the door, which often means our pets never get a chance to meet these potential adopters. Perception of potential adopters is another direct cause of a longer length of stay for some of our animals, often leading to deterioration of their mental health, deterioration of their kennels and their loss of hope of finding their second chance.
In addition to the flooding, Moore noticed cracks and crumbling kennel walls around the animals they are supposed to house. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent repairing buildings instead of caring for animals.
“The land itself is not in a desirable location and is difficult to notice,” she said, “therefore we cannot gain more potential adopters. The shelter needs more than anything else. ‘adopters to be able to carry out its mission to help homeless animals in Dorchester County.
The shelter continues to see an increase in the number of animals brought in each year. Moore said they expect to total over 4,000 animals this year; last year they had 3,725 admissions and in 2018 they reached 3,270.
A new shelter is being designed by MB Kahn. Current shelter designs define the building at 12,496 square feet.
The current shelter was built in 1972 and has 80 dog kennels and 103 cat lockers.
Moore said Dorchester Paws wanted the new shelter to be able to house so many animals while still having the space to provide programs to the public.
“Although the plan is not to build on a bigger campus, the idea is to offer more strategic housing and to ensure that the establishment has the necessary space to offer more public services”, she declared.
Dorchester Paws hired The Winkler Group in August for a mid-campaign evaluation. Moore said the consulting firm has drafted a detailed case statement and will help the shelter contact supporters to help raise more funds.
“The feasibility study will help us determine our timeline and whether or not our goal is achievable,” Moore said. “Can we afford to have more kennels, bigger play areas and more accommodations, or do we have to cut down on items on our wish list?” They basically come into the community to express our needs to the appropriate audiences. “
In June, when Dorchester County Council adopted its budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, council members approved a $ 1 million contribution to Dorchester Paws. The money will come from both the general fund and the county capital fund – $ 500,000 each.
“We look forward to a new Dorchester Paws facility that will include a low cost public spay / neuter clinic and a larger adoption facility that will tackle the excessive pet population,” said the chairman of the board. County Jay Byars in a press release. “We hope our community partners will join us in making a financial contribution. “
Moore has since said the county has committed to providing the land on which the new shelter will be built.
The million dollars remains their responsibility, ready to be used, until all funds for the shelter have been collected. After that, the county will enter into a contract with MB Kahn and they can officially innovate.
The shelter is expected to raise around $ 2 million in addition to contributions from the county.
Residents can donate to the campaign at https://dorchesterpaws.org/capitalcampaign/, where they can also view the proposed layout, naming opportunities, pledge forms and more. They can also send an email to [email protected] or [email protected]
While Dorchester Paws is a private 501 © animal shelter (3), the shelter has a county contract and provides services for the animals that animal control brings.
“To us, their investment (of council members) is a reflection of the good spirit and faith that Dorchester County has in our community shelter; our relationship is based on an equal investment in the welfare of the animals in our community, ”said Moore.
In the meantime, Dorchester Paws welcomes promotional opportunities from residents, as well as pet food and cat litter.