The Humane Society of Richmond County has announced that the local animal shelter will remain in operation, and several updates are in the works to improve conditions at the facility. Following frequent collaboration between county officials and shelter staff, the shelter will close temporarily so changes can be made.
Humane Society Chair Evonne Swanson said the organization has submitted a written request to the county for a list of updates to the shelter.
“We’ll be making some minor improvements,” she said. “The county wrote an assessment of cost and will give us a list of items they’ll be doing and when. We’ve shown our side of the coin and demonstrated our good faith and met their requirements, and now they’re working on their end of it.”
Staff members and volunteers are now joining efforts to find a home for all pets remaining in the shelter.
“The plan of action is to get the animals out of the building so (the county) can come in to make those repairs,” Swanson said.
County Manager Rick Sago said the repairs will include heating/ventilation/air conditioning issues, along with draining and general maintenance repairs.
“We’re working with them on trying to remedy some of those situations,” Sago said. “We’ve met with them several times, and I’ve taken several employees down there to get their opinion on what needs to be done to the building. I feel like they’ve done a really good job at getting their expenditures and costs under control. We’re trying to partner up with them and help them in any way we can.”
Sago added that some of the repairs are already being made while the shelter remains open.
According to Swanson, a grand opening will be held at the shelter once all repairs are finished. She said she hoped the repairs will not take more than a few weeks.
She said she attributed a lot of the work to volunteer shelter Director Amy Jo Kuhnen.
“Amy has done a remarkable job,” Swanson said. “She’s got people pulling together, she’s running a good staff and a tight ship — and the place looks good and smells clean. The enthusiasm is great. I expect the county will work with us likewise. Hopefully we can be out there by November, but we’ve got to give them some time to get in there and do some work.”
In order to start the larger repairs, all animals must be out by or before the shelter’s temporary closing date of Oct. 31.
Kuhnen said she is taking the opportunity to raise awareness by putting herself in the animals’ positions — literally.
“For 24 hours, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, I will be exactly like the shelter animals,” Kuhnen said.
The director plans on setting up camp in a shelter puppy window during an overnight adopt-a-thon and “lock-up” fundraiser.
“If I have to go to the bathroom, I’ll be walked out on a leash,” Kuhnen said. “If anybody wants to serve me my slop, they can bring it to me on a dish … These animals deserve a place better than this. They’re treated well, but they deserve a comfy place to sleep at night.”
Kuhnen said she is looking for 20 dogs and 10 cats to be adopted in addition to $500 raised in donations before she can return to her home. Adoption fees will continue to be waived, but a minimum $10 donation is needed for each adoption, along with the promise to spay or neuter.
The shelter will be open for adoptions all throughout the night to accommodate the goals, she said.
For more information on the “lock-up” fundraiser, contact the shelter at 910-895-0335. The shelter is located at 529 U.S. Highway 74 West Business, in Rockingham.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com