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Give 'em shelter - Construction to begin on no-kill animal site

 A D V E R T I S E M E N T 

Photo by The Union photo/David B. Torch
Click to Enlarge
Edwina, a newly adopted kitten, stares Tuesday at Debby Comendant, manager of AnimalSave's thrift store in Grass Valley. After years of fund-raising, the group is finally ready to break ground on a no-kill animal shelter.
The Union photo/David B. Torch

July 13, 2005

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Seven years after proposing to build a no-kill animal shelter in Nevada County, leaders of the Golden Empire Humane Society's AnimalSave project plan to bring shovels July 22 to begin construction on the $1 million effort.

It's a project that's been long overdue for those responsible for adopting and controlling local pet populations. Currently, stray dogs and cats generally go to the county and city shelters, which can euthanize animals that are not adopted.

"I think it's going to be good to have more infrastructure and have more ways to solve this problem than just rely on a few key individuals," said Cheryl Wicks, volunteer coordinator at the Nevada County Animal Shelter.

The Nevada County shelter's euthanasia rate has been declining sharply since 1998, a year in which nearly two-thirds of the approximately 3,000 animals brought into the McCourtney Road facility were killed. Wicks, volunteer coordinator at the animal shelter, said euthanasia rates stood at 7 percent at the end of 2004.

Those numbers can only improve when the humane society's 3,500-square-foot building on Rough and Ready Highway is completed in two years, she said.

Members of the Golden Empire Humane Society have been actively collecting donations for four years for the AnimalSave no-kill shelter.

Photo by Rendering courtesy of ARQ Architects

This is an artist's rendering of the proposed no-kill shelter being funded by AnimalSave and the Golden Empire Humane Society.
Rendering courtesy of ARQ Architects
The shelter will be located on 8.5 acres of land purchased in 1999 by organic-food distributor Michael Funk, owner of Auburn-based Mountain People's Warehouse. The land was donated by Funk and his wife, Judy, to the Golden Empire Humane Society in 2003.

Along with adoptions, the humane society provides low-cost spay and neuter services for prospective animal owners.

Although AnimalSave is still collecting donations for the building, board member Jean Shannon said the board of directors believed starting the project would help spur additional contributions.

"We're doing this now because we figure, why wait? We're trying to show the community that we're committed to doing this."

For years, tiny jars shaped like dogs and cats have been placed on convenience store counters and placed beside cash registers as a means of collecting money for the no-kill shelter.

Money for the shelter has also been collected through various fund-raisers held by the nonprofit, and a portion of revenue from AnimalSave's thrift store will pay for the building.

The building will include rooms to house as many as 36 dogs and cats and will have office space and a multi-purpose room where AnimalSave plans to teach pet care and adoption classes to students and potential owners.

The project has been changed several times throughout the years, which has caused some grumbling from those once close to the Golden Empire Humane Society.

South county resident Shirley Pfeiler, a former AnimalSave volunteer, said she believes the nonprofit's initial desire to construct several buildings on the property probably slowed the process.

She also questioned the board's decision to place some of the money generated by donations into a general fund, as opposed to an account specifically for the new building.

"I support their idea thoroughly, but I believe they attempted to build too much for our county to support," said Pfeiler, a volunteer with AnimalSave for 2 1/2 years, ending in 2004.

Plans now call for the facility to be housed in one building.

"Our focus is and always has been putting up a model (shelter) for any rural community that evidences the respect for animals that play an important role in our lives," Shannon said.

That's good news for Wicks, who works as a volunteer to place owners with animals brought to the county animal shelter.

Even though the euthanasia rate is at an all-time low, Wicks said it could easily jump if not for the work of a handful of volunteers, some who have been working with animal adoptions for years.

The no-kill shelter "is just one more way to help the animals in this county," Wicks said. "I'm happy, and it will make my life easier."

Know and Go

WHAT: Groundbreaking for AnimalSave's no-kill shelter

WHEN: 11 a.m. July 22

WHERE: 11157 Rough and Ready Highway (next to Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital)



To contact staff writer David Mirhadi, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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