Match dollars available for canine fund

Your new gifts to the Jackson County Canine Shelter Fund can now earn matching grant dollars.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County is providing up to $10,000 to match new donations to the grassroots campaign to raise money for construction of a dog shelter in Brownstown.

“We are very appreciative of the Community Foundation’s help and guidance since we started our project,” Debbie Hackman said. “A successful match drive will get us to the funds we need to start building the shelter. It’s a dream come true for the committee members that have worked so hard on this project the past three years.”

Hackman is part of a committee formed to help bring about construction of the dog shelter.

New gifts to the project can earn match dollars on a $1-for-$1 basis when made to the Jackson County Canine Shelter Fund, which was established at the foundation in April 2015. Gifts can be tax-deductible.

“Our grant committee and board of directors have been following this effort and have been impressed with the drive, passion and far-ranging community support,” said Dan Davis, president and chief executive officer of the foundation.

The match dollars will come from the foundation’s unrestricted funds.

“The idea is to use the match dollars to leverage the gifts needed to push the canine shelter from a dream to a reality,” said Priscilla Wischmeier, chairwoman of the foundation’s board.

A recent anonymous gift of $30,000 helped push the Canine Shelter Fund closer to its goal of raising $200,000 for the project. That gift prompted the foundation to consider providing match dollars to push the project past its goal.

“The dog shelter committee is very thankful for this anonymous gift,” Hackman said. “The donation is definitely appreciated and was a motivator for the tired committee members. The only regret is that we can’t tell the responsible party ‘thank you’ or how much their generosity means to us and our project in person. Maybe if they read this article, they will know that we are very grateful. God bless them.”

The Canine Shelter Fund was established with the goal of raising money to build a dog shelter near the Jackson County Jail. Low-level offender inmates are expected to work with the dogs taken to the shelter.

Using inmates to handle the dogs is expected to net at least three positive outcomes: Keeping down operating costs, building job skills and interpersonal skills for those inmates assigned to the shelter and finding new homes for the dogs, Sheriff Mike Carothers said.

“The dog shelter will be a learning tool for inmates and a way for them to give back to the community,” Carothers said. “Time spent working and exercising the dogs will give inmates a change from prison life and will help make them more relaxed when they work with the animals. It will be a beautiful, clean facility that we all can be proud of.”

According to a story from Clear the Shelters, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that human-animal interactions can lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate, two physiological indicators of stress. Lower stress can ease tensions inside jails with fellow inmates and their jailers.

The story reported that psychologists studying a prison-based animal program in the United Kingdom concluded that working with animals helped inmates develop a deeper sense of responsibility and trust, resulting in enhanced communications between fellow inmates and staff.

The shelter will house up to 75 dogs with the goal of saving and adopting as many of them as possible.

Inmates are expected to work with the animals in the mornings and afternoons to clean kennels, feed the dogs and oversee exercise times. Adoption time for the public will be set at times when no inmates are in the building, Hackman said.

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For information about how you can make a donation to the Jackson County Canine Shelter Fund or any of the other funds administered by the Community Foundation of Jackson County, call 812-523-4483 or send email Dan Davis at [email protected].