After years of dreaming and planning by animal advocates, Dothan took a step closer to a modern animal shelter with the Tuesday grand opening of the Wiregrass Pet Rescue and Adoption Center.
“There’s a very human aspect to animal welfare,” said Beth Kenward, board member and vice president of nonprofit Wiregrass Pets. “We get so much more from them than we give.”
The state-of-the-art facility is the result of a partnership between the City of Dothan, County of Houston and the non-profit organization Wiregrass Pets. It will replace the current Dothan Animal Sanctuary, which most agree is woefully inadequate and outdated.
Sitting on 6.5 acres, the new $8.5 million rescue and adoption center will be 21,500 square feet when built and will accommodate 120 dogs and 112 cats. A split entrance on Alabama Highway 52 will lead to the center itself, which will be built adjacent to Eye Surgical Associates and near the intersection of Honeysuckle Road.
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Designed by Texas-based Shelter Planners of America, the concept includes separate admission and quarantine areas to reduce the spread of disease, a specialized HVAC system designed for air quality and odor control, and a plumbing drainage system to also prevent the spread of disease and reduce odors. .
Plans call for dedicated grooming rooms, medical rooms, and food and medication preparation rooms. There will also be “get to know” rooms where adopters can meet adoptable pets one-on-one.
“The many members of this community, many citizens and welfare groups have dreamed for years of a shelter that could be built on the principles of care, compassion, love and the belief that every dog and cat deserves a safe home forever. said Bryan Applefield, a local businessman and president of Wiregrass Pets.
Applefield said plans for a modern rescue and adoption center as a public nonprofit partnership have been around since 2007. Shelter Planners of America even created plans.
The project, however, was put on hold as the recession took its toll in 2008. In 2018, a phone call from Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish revived the project, Applefield said.
There will be separate areas for dogs ready for adoption, strays, nursing dogs and puppies as well as areas for dogs under medical observation, isolation or quarantine. Dogs will have indoor and outdoor runs as well as an outdoor play area with a privacy fence and a large wooded outdoor walking path.
There will be similar spaces for cats as well as community rooms for cats to roam and two “catio” areas.
Wiregrass Pets executive director Rachel Smith said the nonprofit will manage animal care, adoption, fostering, volunteer, humane education and community programs at the new shelter. , while the town of Dothan will continue to provide animal control and animal law enforcement services.
Along with the nonprofit fundraiser for the shelter, there will be a wall of honor recognizing those who contribute $2,500 or more and a special section for children who donate $125 or more. There are also limited naming opportunities for large donations from benches on the walking path to dog and cat kennels, cat playrooms, catios, the medical treatment room and even the laundromat inside. of the Center.
“With your support, this shelter will meet the critical need of the community and be a point of pride for all of its citizens,” Smith told attendees. “This shelter is not just an investment in the community, it will further improve the quality of life for our pets and community members for many generations to come.”
To learn more about the Wiregrass Pet Rescue and Adoption Center, visit wiregrasspets.org.
Kenward, a former Dothan commissioner, said that while the town of Dothan is doing a lot of things well, it has struggled with animal welfare. Kenward said she saw firsthand while serving how outdated the city’s animal shelter had become and the challenges the staff faced.
Without community partners like the Wiregrass Humane Society, Sav-A-Pet, Felines Under Rescue and Kitty Kottage, Kenward said the city’s animal control wouldn’t be able to do the adoptions it does now. Adoptable animals are even transported to other states where shelters don’t have as many dogs and cats available.
“Did you know that we adopt less than 5% of the animals that come to our shelter? Kenward said before the groundbreaking. “The reason is that we don’t have the resources to do it…I think we can do better.”
Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be reached at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.