It’s official, ground has been broken on the new animal welfare campus! The Shelter hosted a private groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, July 22. More than 100 campaign donors and volunteers toured the property with maps depicting the major building locations for the nearly 30,000 square foot facility designed not just to house homeless animals, but to be a community gathering and education hub, spay/neuter center, and more.
Shelter Executive Director Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon said during the ceremony (while wearing a hard hat decorated with dog “ears” and holding a golden shovel), “We’re so proud of what the new facility will do for the community, both the pets and the people; and we’re incredibly thankful to everyone who has volunteered, donated, adopted, and spread the word to help achieve our mission.”
The Animal Shelter partners with many other local groups and nonprofit organizations, including The Hunger Coalition, The Advocates, The Senior Connection, and local schools. Associate Director Brooke Bonner stresses the importance of all these different organizations for the health of our community and looks forward to the expanded partnerships that will be possible in the new campus.
Bonner says, “The current shelter building was never designed for the role we are filling for the community – back when it was built more than 35 years ago, animals were only housed for a few days at a time. Now that we are a no-kill shelter, we need to be able to house animals humanely for more extended time periods. Now is the time to invest in a building capable of fulfilling a larger vision. This will be a tremendous asset, bringing back a significant ‘return on investment’ to benefit Blaine County.” In fact, according to an economic impact study conducted by the Sun Valley Economic Development Corporation, in 2015 the Animal Shelter infused $4.4 million back into the local economy, almost three times its operating budget that year.
According to Dr. Dixon, the Animal Shelter is an important member of the local nonprofit sector, serving a key role to ensure Blaine County is a humane community for all. She says, “In addition to saving homeless animals’ lives, we also educate thousands of children every year, help keep families together by providing services so they can keep their pets during times of struggle, and provide love and companionship to seniors and others through our outreach programs. Whether or not you’ve ever adopted, chances are good that we’ve touched the life of someone you love through our diverse programs.”
The Animal Shelter’s Campaign Committee and staff have been busy raising the early major gifts needed to be able to break ground. They have received 75% of the gifts and pledges needed to finish the facility and are looking forward to announcing the kickoff of the community campaign later this year.
According to Bonner, “We want to give everyone a chance to see how this project will help the community and how their gift can make an impact. As we move forward with the campaign, donors will be able to participate in whatever way is meaningful to them – even with our growing mission and impact, the Animal Shelter will always be here for Blaine County’s two-legged and four-legged citizens.”
To learn more about what the new animal welfare campus will include, you can see a map of the facility at www.wagthefuture.org/map.
Check out some of the images below from the celebration!