If you’ve ever stepped foot in our aging local animal shelter, you’ll be immediately struck by the number of loving pets waiting for adoption and the caring dedicated efforts of the staff working there. You will also be immediately struck by the deteriorating structure, the inefficient and inadequate space, and the overcrowding of the animals. Built in the mid 1970s, it is a facility in dire need of replacement.
For eight years we served on Council and over that time challenged both municipal staff and the provincial OSPCA to come forward with a viable plan to construct a new shelter. Despite their efforts, and the persistent advocacy of many citizens in the community who recognized the need, no plan was forthcoming. Following the 2014 municipal election, we began discussing if there might be another option … essentially a community-led initiative. We went to Council with a request to establish and allow us to co-chair a small committee – an Animal Shelter Fundraising Committee — that would be tasked with developing a plan, something we have been earnestly working on over the past few months.
From the start, the Committee’s vision has been clear: “To fundraise and oversee the construction of a new bright, spacious, humane, hygienic and efficient animal shelter that meets Chatham-Kent’s needs today and into the future”. We have consulted municipal staff, OSPCA authorities, members of other area groups working in animal care, our local veterinary community, marketing experts, qualified construction project managers, and others. We have questioned and toured other animal shelters across southern Ontario for their ideas and suggestions. Much of this outreach was built on a foundation laid over the past several years by Dr. Bruce Warwick, a committee member and long-time advocate for animal care in our community. From all this activity, we arrived at the plan presented to and approved by Council on May 25th. We think a new facility sited behind the existing shelter on Park Avenue, and a bit more than double the size of our existing shelter, is what is needed, and we intend to fundraise the approximate $2 million required and have the new building constructed within two years.
It is our belief that a community is judged by how well we care for the most vulnerable in our midst, and while that sentiment is generally used when referring to people, it applies similarly to our four-legged friends and other creatures we share this corner of the world with.
Please support our efforts Chatham-Kent. Please help us meet the challenge and raise the necessary funds. Please help us ‘give them shelter.’
Marjorie Crew and Art Stirling