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County one step closer to building animal shelter

By Sherri Ellington A county animal shelter ‘“ one not built using tax dollars ‘“ came a little closer to reality thanks to a grant contract with the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. The money would go toward constructing a building on three acres of county-owned land on Roberta Drive. ’We want this to be a visible site, next to the schools instead of at the public works department,’ said chairman Jay Matthews at the Oct. 21 meeting, where a resolution to seek the grant was approved. ‘We want it to become an educational center for people to learn about pets, a place to be proud of, not to dump animals off and get rid of them.’ He noted the nearby nature trails where dogs could be walked by volunteers and prospective owners. The fire station was once slated to be built at the site. The animal shelter would likely be built in stages and complement work at the Barnesville animal shelter. Estimates call for it to be built in about five years. Kathryn Dennis and Julia Wood of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, after giving a brief history of that funding group and the local one it supports, said there is money available for such projects. No costs have been decided upon but it would be arranged that, if a shelter is not built, funds would still be used to help Lamar County animals. ’It needs to be clearly spelled out,’ said Dennis. ‘I recommend you have a safety net.’ Wood said the project would require a short term agreement that defines how money is used and collected. Donations through the BLCCF can be earmarked for the shelter through a local group formed to oversee the project. ’I’ve talked to several residents who are interested in an animal shelter,’ said Wood. ‘The community would benefit from a new animal shelter and hopefully more animals can find homes.’ Commissioner Van Baker, who has worked with local rescue groups on planning the shelter, noted it would be difficult to raise funds needed without the community foundation and its tax deductible status. ’When we get ready to do something we’ll have the funds,’ Baker said, noting the goal is to have a fund in place by the end of the year ‘so people can start giving. We’ve got all these volunteers who hopefully will go out and tell people about it.’ Baker again stressed the shelter would not be no-kill as hoped. ’You’d have a third party telling you every little thing you have to do,’ he said. ‘Our intent is to save lives and protect our county. It’s expensive to build and operate and some people think we don’t need it but it’ll be positive for our community. The goal is to adopt out as many animals as possible.’ Future costs will include operations and a spay and neuter program, he said. Those could be covered by donations, volunteer workers and more grants.

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