Braxton Co. Animal Shelter staff are cautiously optimistic that 2024 will be the year that an Annex Building adjacent to the current facility will become a reality. Much of the initial groundwork needed to develop the project has been done. Blueprints for the 32’ X 36’ structure were prepared by Corlis Design, and include space for a puppy room, a whelping room, a hold area for new dogs and puppies entering the facility and a quarantine area to treat sick animals away from those in the general population. For the first time in local history, the facility is also designed with a hold and maintenance area for cats and kittens. Sick felines will share the quarantine area with sick dogs. Kim Jarrett, Shelter Director, notes that a quarantine area is a high priority, and its completion will prevent the need for prolonged closure of the facility due to communicable disease, as recently happened.
Fundraising for the expanded project has been on-going since the need for a quarantine area was recognized several years ago. The Braxton Rotary Club provided a recent boost to the fundraising effort with a $10,000 matching grant that was awarded to the group last week. Animal Control Officer, Megan Stout, has been a part of the fundraising effort from the beginning, and expresses her gratitude for the support of so many individuals, businesses, and civic organizations that have brought the funds raised to date to almost $100,000. In addition, a $13,000 grant has been received for the HVAC system. While this is not the full amount needed to build and equip the new structure, it is a respectable start and an indication of the broad community support of the effort.
“The Braxton County Commission is getting closer to being able to solicit bids for the project construction,” states Sally Stewart, program director for Just One Generation Cat Rescue and a member of the project development team. “But the project is on pause right now pending approval from the Dept of Highways for the acquisition of two additional acres of excess right of way property in order to install the non-traditional septic system needed for the new building.” She explains that the process for acquiring the property is underway and is currently in the hands of the Region 7 DOH personnel. Once approved at a regional level, the transfer would then need to be approved by the state. “We recognize that with the Christmas holiday approaching, we will not likely see approval prior to the end of the year,” states Dr. Stewart. “But we are hopeful that the process can resume uninterrupted in January.”
There is general consensus that expansion of the current facility is necessary for the Animal Shelter to be the complete service to the community it was always intended to be. The need is present. The plans are underway. There is interest, support, and momentum to move the project forward, all of which create justifiable optimism that at this point in time next year, a new annex structure will stand on the shelter grounds, to the benefit of both the animals and the community it serves.