Watauga Humane Society opens new shelter

Article Published: Oct. 6, 2011 | Modified: Oct. 6, 2011
Watauga Humane Society opens new shelter

Dee Dundon welcomes a feline friend to the Watauga Humane Society's new shelter.

Photo by Kellen Moore

After years of planning and preparation, the Watauga Humane Society opened the doors of its new Irma Baker Lyons Adoption and Education Center to the public last Friday.

The $2.4 million project includes a nearly 17,000-square-foot building on 13 acres. The space is far more expansive than the former facility on Casey Lane, with two cat rooms, three full walls of “cat condos,” larger dog kennels with radiant heat floors, a conference room, offices and gift shop.

The expansive new building was aflutter last Tuesday with volunteers crying, cats meowing and dogs wagging tails, as about 28 dogs and 43 cats moved into the new space.

Not only is the space larger and cleaner, it should be far more functional.

The conference room will allow the Humane Society to host indoor dog obedience classes, as well as community activities, said Ellen Jo Kraemer, acting vice president.
 Each side of the dog kennel area has a fenced yard where the animals can breathe fresh air and exercise, and the new facility is beside the existing three-acre dog park. Staff members plan to create walking trails through the property to provide another source of exercise and enjoyment for the dogs.

The cats will also be comfortable in their new rooms, which face the afternoon sun. Staff members are planning to reinstall the window-level benches, so “the cats can just bask all afternoon,” she said.

The facility was constructed at a cost of about $2.4 million, and a capital campaign is still active to help pay off the loan, Kraemer said. The shelter formerly run by Watauga County Animal Care and Control will also close, so the new building off Don Hayes Road will be the county’s sole shelter.

Perhaps most importantly to its mission, the Humane Society leadership hopes that the space will be more inviting and better display their animals for adoption. The organization currently adopts out more than 1,000 pets annually, Kraemer said.

A grand opening ceremony will be held the afternoon of Nov. 6, with time to be announced.
For more information about the shelter, call (828) 264-7865 or visit wataugahumanesociety.org.

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