Second privately funded shelter addition gets started

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 1, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — For the second time, private donations are paying for an addition to the Rowan County Animal Shelter.

First came the $1 million cat wing. This week, construction started on an intake room funded by nonprofit group Shelter Guardians.

The Shelter Guardians addition will be smaller than the cat wing. It will measure 439 square feet and sit at the rear of the shelter’s building that’s used for dogs. When Shelter Guardians initially presented the proposal to county commissioners in December, it was projected to cost roughly $90,000.

County officials and Shelter Guardians held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday. On Thursday, construction was scheduled to start. Shelter Guardians President Nina Dix said the addition should take two months to complete but that timeline could change based on weather.

Once complete, the intake room will be donated to the Rowan County Animal Shelter.

Dix said the intake room should improve the flow of animals coming into the Rowan County Animal Shelter. Thousands of animals come into the shelter every year. In 2015, for example, more than 2,500 cats, 2,030 dogs, 24 opossums, one rabbit and 16 raccoons were brought into the Rowan County Animal Shelter, according to N.C. Department of Agriculture statistics.

With the addition, Dix said shelter staff would be less likely to miss things such as microchips or injuries. Dix said she is also encouraging the animal shelter to use the intake room for spay and neuter procedures once county officials hire a veterinarian.

When asked about the addition, Rowan County Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass said it would improve the shelter’s logistics and keep incoming animals adequately separated from the rest of the population. As a result of the improved logistics, Pendergrass said animals would be more calm when entering the shelter. It would also be easier to prevent sick animals from spreading pathogens and disease to animals already inside of the shelter.

Dix said Shelter Guardians’ idea to build an intake room started because private individuals are unable to make donations to the shelter for a specific purpose. Instead, donated money goes into the county’s general fund and can be allocated to any department or for any purpose. The idea grew from there.

Initially, Shelter Guardians provided free vaccines for animals in the shelter. In December 2015, Shelter Guardians formally proposed the intake room addition.

The nonprofit also plans to build a 63-kennel dog wing, which could be equally or more expensive than the cat wing. Shelter Guardians is continuing to raise money for the dog win addition.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.