Construction for a county dog shelter is expected to begin late this summer after the committee funding the project approved the building.
The Jackson County Dog Shelter will have enough space to hold 72 dogs at capacity and will include an overhead door for canine control officers to bring them in safely, an isolation area where dogs will be kept for five days to limit diseases, a veterinarian room, an officer and a meeting room for those considering adoption to meet with a dog.
The 85-by-42-foot building will be located behind the jail in Brownstown and will be the first dog shelter operated by the county.
“It will look a lot like the storage building that’s already there,” said Debbie Hackman, the committee chairwoman who has been instrumental in the shelter’s construction. “We’d like to have it done by the end of the year.”
The committee still has to raise $25,000 to finish the building. It has raised $175,000 since February 2015.
The committee will receive a boost from the Community Foundation of Jackson County, as the foundation will match donations up to $10,000.
“They did that because they saw the effort the community has put into this project,” Hackman said.
The committee will not stop after it reaches $200,000, Hackman said, because the mission of placing dogs with new owners will still need necessary funding.
Costs include water, utilities, veterinarian visits and more.
The shelter will have a source of funding through adoption fees to offset costs of supplies and medical expenses.
Daily care of the animals and maintenance will be completed by inmates at the Jackson County Jail, and processing adoptions will be done by volunteers.
There are no plans to hire staff for the shelter, which will be decided by the sheriff.
“We’re just building the building, and the sheriff is taking over the program,” Hackman said. “We have visions for how it will look, but ultimately, it’s up to the sheriff to decide.”
Those interested in adopting a pet will enter the shelter and look through a computer database to show what dogs are available. A volunteer will help them find the dog they are looking for by size and other specifications.
The volunteer will bring the dog to a meeting room to meet its potential new owner.
The cost to adopt will be determined by how much has been invested in medical costs. Each dog will have necessary shots, be spayed or neutered and microchipped, Hackman said.
The building has the capacity to hold 72 dogs, but Hackman does not expect to have near that many at a given time.
“That would be holding two per kennel, and we don’t think we’ll have to do that,” she said.
Red Sky Rescue, which the county contracts to take stray dogs, takes in about five dogs per week from the county, Hackman said.
Ruth Riley, the founder of the shelter in Medora, is going to show volunteers how to successfully place a large volume of dogs into homes.
“She had 100 percent placement of her dogs last year,” Hackman said. “That’s unheard of, and we what her to show us how to do that.”
So how did the committee reach nearly $200,000?
There was a lot of grassroots and hard work put into organizing fundraisers and donations, Hackman said.
Other than simple donations, the committee hosted three social gatherings: Fur Ball each March, all-terrain vehicle rides, a dog show, sales and more.
The last $25,000 will help fund the remaining construction needed inside the structure.
Most of the donations along the way have been small, but a few were more than $1,000, and the committee recently received an anonymous $30,000 donation.
“The majority have been $50 here and $20 there,” Hackman said. “There’s only one piece to the anonymous donation, and that’s we didn’t get to thank them. So we hope they read the articles about their donation and take that as an opportunity to say, ‘Thank you.’”
Hackman said the reality of a dog shelter is coming, and it’s all because of a well-organized committee and a generous community.
“We have a really good committee, and it’s really rewarding to know that citizens in Jackson County have already given us $175,000 for this project,” she said. “That’s unbelievable and how generous of everyone.”