Faithful Friends to open March 31

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 26, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — At an emergency animal shelter in Rockingham, Shelley Swaim gave up.
About 180 cats had been seized during a large hoarding case in the county last year and many of them that were contagious or couldn’t be rehabilitated were brought to Swaim’s shelter to be euthanized.
“I looked at the girl’s face that was doing the euthanasia and I went in there to help her,” Swaim said.
When she came out, she gave her notice.
The decision, she said, was “like an epiphany.” For her new employers, they know the feeling.
Swaim is now the operations manager at Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary on Grace Church Road.
The animal rescue group is having its grand opening on March 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It will be the only licensed no-kill animal shelter in the county, Swaim said.
The idea for the shelter came about as quickly as Swaim’s decision, said Mary Padavick, president of the shelter’s board.
Padavick was one of many at the shelter on Saturday, caring for animals that are already being housed and putting the final details on the “people portion” of the facility.
Artwork covered the walls surrounding the front door. The art came from elementary and middle school students, many of whom also volunteered at the shelter.
Brightly colored walls and a constant buzz of barks, meows and volunteers’ chatter filled the building.
The animal sanctuary lies at the end of part-gravel, part-asphalt road. Before its construction, Padavick said organizers met at the Rowan Public Library to discuss the project and fundraising efforts.
In 2009, organizers had raised about $400,000 through yard sales, grants and aluminum can collection.
Ten acres of land on Grace Church Road was also donated to Faithful Friends by David Clark. The land was formerly part of the Hitching Post Drive-In Theatre, later renamed Joe’s Drive-In Theatre in the 1950s.
Looking to take advantage of the economy, but with just half the needed funds, Padavick said they began taking bids.
“We were nervous,” she said. “We thought the building was going to be somewhere around a million dollars. We really didn’t know. None of us had any experience.”
But Summit Builders got the bid at $756,000, she said.
Two years, and hundreds of decisions later, she said, they can finally start concentrating on the day-to-day duties.
“We really want to be frugal. It’s about the animals,” she said.
Operational costs, like most of the project, will be paid for by donations.
“We’ll continue to apply for grants. We’ll continue to fundraise. You can sponsor an animal,” she said. “We’ve worked with local vets to negotiate prices to keep prices down.”
All animals that come to Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary will be spayed or neutered, she said.
The facility has 28 dog kennels and can house 24 cats. Padavick said more than 150 people have signed up to volunteer at the shelter.
“So many people say I only want to do cats or I only want to do dogs,” she said. “Some people come in and say they only want to do laundry.”
Gwin Barr, who was volunteering at Faithful Friends Saturday with her kids, said the experience has taught her children important lessons.
“Really I’ve seen it through the eyes of my children who have done artwork and they had fundraisers at the school and they’re so passionate about this place,” Barr said. “They beg to come out here.”
Barr said they’ve helped find homes for animals and raise money for the shelter.
Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary still needs volunteers, Padavick said.
For more information, see or visit the Sanctuary located at 220 Grace Church Road off South Main Street. A list of ways to donate and items to donate is available online.
“We really hope to use the place just to educate people, to care for animals, the over population of animals,” Padavick said. “We’re finally at the point where it’s finally about the animals.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

Grand Opening
What: Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary Grand Opening
When:?10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 31
Where: 220 Grace Church Road, Salisbury
For more information, go to www.