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Shelter advocacy group to hold awareness event

animal controlFriends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter will host a kickoff reception and informational session in support of the county’s new shelter proposal.

The current Hemlock Street shelter is 27 years old and was built was built in 1988.

“During that time,” said Sara Jane League, secretary-treasurer of FHCAS, “Haywood County’s growing population has come to expect a solid animal services facility as part of the local infrastructure.” 

Problems with parking, overcrowding, and the transmission of contagious diseases — in addition to changing state legislation regulating such facilities — have made the old shelter a less-than-desirable facility in which to operate. 

The new facility will include a specialized ventilation system to cut down on the transmission of disease — especially in regards to cats — and will also include a specialized waste disposal system, League said. There will be a “less traumatic” adoption area as well, League said, where people can meet potential adoptees in a calmer setting, and a conference room, where animal care trainings can be held. 

Another interesting aspect of the project League would like to see is a program where children can bring in books and read to the animals. 

“The animals enjoy the companionship, and the children — particularly ones who have trouble reading in school because there is an adult ‘judging’ them — seem to have an easier time reading. Animals don’t judge,” said League. 

FCHAS hopes to raise $1 million in support of the shelter, which it would then use to reimburse the county for part of the cost of the project. As it stands, the county will vote on the proposal June 20; final costs won’t be in until bidders begin bidding, but it’s estimated by some that the project will cost around $3.35 million. 

If approved, the county would finance the project with a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to cover the cost. FCHAS’ contribution would allow the county to pay off that loan sooner, rather than later. Currently, it’s expected to cost about $2 per year per county taxpayer, but only as a collected sales tax — not as an addition to property taxes or as any other kind of fee. 

“That’s one trip to Starbucks,” League said. 

Dr. Kristen Hammett with Animal Hospital of Waynesville formed FHCAS two years ago with the goals of raising awareness of the need for a new shelter and raising money to support furnishing the shelter with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment; it came about specifically in response to the then-nascent plans for a new shelter.

 

Learn more

A free informational meeting on the proposed new animal shelter will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, at the Wells Event Center on Main Street in Waynesville; there will be light refreshments, a cash bar, and a short program.

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