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Girl Scouts attend grand opening of Faithful Friends

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Gracie Gatton will soon have a “job” at Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary. She got it through her Girl Scout troop.
The 9-year-old will volunteer along with others from her troop, an opportunity they got after donating more than 100 items to the facility.
The 5,400-square-foot no-kill shelter on Grace Church Road held its grand opening Saturday.
Gracie and others from her troop — 2180 based out of Christiana Lutheran Church in Granite Quarry — were on hand Saturday for the festivities. When asked which one was her favorite, Gracie immediately said, “I love all dogs.”
She was excited to begin “working” so that she can play with the pets, she said.
She has two dogs of her own at home, along with two cats and seven horses.
Mary Gainey, 10, also with Troop 2180, was excited to see all the dogs at the facility.
Her mother, Elizabeth, pointed out the one she wanted to adopt as Mary held onto Hank Porter, a dog found along Porter Road in Salisbury.
“They love animals,” Elizabeth said of Mary and her siblings.
The children have at one time or the other brought home lizards, turtles and frogs.
The girls spent two months collecting blankets, treats and food for Faithful Friends.
It was a way to teach the girls about giving to the community and celebrate 100 years of the organization, said April Gillespie, co-leader of the troop.
“It helps them become leaders,” Gillespie said.
The facility was a project more than five years in the making dating to 2008 when David Clark donated the 10-acre site in honor of his late wife, Connie.
The building houses outdoor space for dog runs and a cat porch.
The building and its contents were made possible by community fundraisers, donations from individuals and companies, and other gifts.
The brick exterior was donated by Taylor Clay Products.
W.A. Brown provided “green” soundproof panels that insulate the building.
Countless volunteers have also helped throughout the years. Many were on the job Saturday giving tours.
There was even an appearance by Chesty, the first dog adopted from Faithful Friends. Ryan and Kelly Martin adopted him and brought him back to the sanctuary Saturday.
Chesty was named after the most decorated Marine in history, Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller. The Marine Corps mascots are always named Chesty.
The Cornelius couple came to the grand opening with Chesty. “We have two cats, both rescues,” she said. “They are a great fit. He’s awesome.”
If Kelly and Ryan had it their way, they’d someday move out of their condo and to a spacious place where they could own even more dogs and cats, she said.
But for now, the condo and a nearby dog park will have to do. “He was the perfect size and everything,” Kelly said.
The Martins didn’t have to train Chesty. They were told the dog was found wandering around Rowan County.
One of the things Kelly liked about Faithful Friends was the staff and volunteers.
“They were so down to earth and everything was very easy,” she said.
“We are dog people. We will come back,” Kelly said.
Board member Reid Acree reflected on the animals the facility will be helping now and in the future.
All the animals want is to be loved, he said.
Also on hand for the grand opening were members of VFW 3006 located at Brenner Avenue in Salisbury and AMVETS 565 based out of China Grove.
Members volunteered to grill food and prepare barbecue for those who attended.
“I’ve been with Faithful Friends for about six years. This is our passion,” said Jack Cornatzer.
He’s also fostered some animals and along with other volunteers erected the fence around the facility.
He and his wife, Debra, joined Jim Ross, Joe Harper, Pat Smith, Linda Gant and Daniel Lipe at the food station, serving up goodies for visitors.
Proceeds from the sale of the donated food will benefit the sanctuary.
Lynn Osborne, with the Johnsonville brats company, brought a grill to serve food at the event. “I’m just glad to help out,” he said.
New additions to the facility are “The Food Lion Five,” a group of five puppies found by a Food Lion employee.
It’s unclear what type of breed the puppies are.
There were a number of students from Pfeiffer University on hand volunteering for a service project.
No adoptions took place Saturday, but people had the opportunity to meet some dogs and cats. The adoption process includes making sure animals are spayed and neutered. Other checks help make sure the animals are going to good homes, said operations manager Shelly Swaim.
Visit www.faithfulfriendsnc. org for more information.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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