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Fostering love: Donations to fund upgrades to shelter in stages

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When abandoned dogs and cats come to the Humane Society of Johnson County, the only way to help is by placing them in a foster home.

But that situation could soon change.

Plans are moving forward on a refurbished shelter for the Humane Society, complete with kennels for dogs and cats.

Screening rooms, training facilities and adoption suites would be included. The hope is that the expanded headquarters will allow the Humane Society to help more animals who are strays, abandoned or can no longer be cared for by their owners.

Humane society  renovations

What: The Humane Society of Johnson County is in the process of refurbishing its headquarters into a full service shelter

What’s already been done:

Fencing has been installed to keep animals on the property.

New siding has been added.

Gravel had been added to the perimeter of the property.

An interior apartment has been converted to an adoption room.

What’s being planned:

Dog kennels to shelter stray and abandoned animals

Rooms to house stray cats

Quarantine rooms for sick animals

A training area

Observation and screening areas for cats and dogs

“We want to see more animals on site, hold our adoption event more at our facility and be able to save more animals,” said Janet Gorrell, board president for the Humane Society of Johnson County.

The building project has been ongoing since 2010, when Humane Society officials unveiled its plans to transform the headquarters and former horse barn on Graham Road into a full-service shelter.

Currently, the shelter is able to find adoptive homes for about 350 animals. The shelter is expected to double that number, Gorrell said.

Officials have broken the project up into phases, she said. The first phase consisted of fencing around the facility, a repaired exterior of the building, new gravel for a parking lot and a transformed adoption room to add space.

That stage is finished. The next step calls for an area to house cats, bigger entryway and kennels to house a small number of dogs.

Taking advantage of grants and donations, the Humane Society is approaching individual projects this spring, rather than doing all the work at once.

“We wanted to show the people that we were doing something with the money and not just waiting until we had it all,” Gorrell said.

Gorrell anticipates those projects will cost $60,000 to $75,000. Work is expected to begin in June or July.

Work likely will continue for the next two or three years. Eventually, Humane Society officials would like to have the space to teach obedience classes inside, have a concrete area for dogs to be trained and include a section for therapy dogs to work with patients on a one-on-one basis.

The society also would like to expand its pet food pantry. The Humane Society opened the pantry in the fall, taking it over from the Interchurch Food Pantry to help needy families feed their animals.

“Our whole goal is to keep dogs or cats in the home and out of the shelter. This is a big way of doing that,” Gorrell said.

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