Building a better doghouse

A citizens committee formed to raise funds for the proposed county dog shelter has collected almost $12,000 of the $200,000 needed.

Formal fundraising has yet to begin, and committee members have yet to start reaching out to corporate donors.

The initial funds raised are all due to “word of mouth” and news articles, Debbie Hackman told the Jackson County Council on Wednesday.

“We know there’s an interest out there,” said Hackman, who has spearheaded the project. “We hope that we get enough money to do it.”

Hackman, who also is executive director of the Jackson County Solid Waste Management District, updated the council on the project with the help of Dr. Klent Brown, a local vet.

In February, the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals gave an OK to the shelter to be built behind the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 150 E. State Road 250 in Brownstown.

The proposed shelter would be large enough to hold about 200 dogs, and it will rely solely on private donations.

Hackman said they need at least $200,000 to construct the block building and have two years to raise that amount. That deadline was imposed by the board of zoning appeals when it approved a variance. That approval required that a building permit for the shelter be acquired within that time frame. Construction would have to begin within 18 months after the two-year period ends.

Low-level offenders at the jail will feed and take care of the dogs and keep the shelter clean. Sheriff Mike Carothers, who is in favor of the program, will oversee the shelter.

The dogs housed at the shelter will be picked up by the full-time county animal officer, who would have access to drive into the shelter to drop off the dogs. Animal waste will be eliminated through a drain connected to the Brownstown Wastewater Utility.

Adoptions would take place on days when volunteers will be there, and inmates will not be involved with that process, Carothers said.

To raise the money, a committee was formed to come up with ways to seek pledges and donations. Currently, the group is selling granite plaques, walkway bricks and lobby/adoption room blocks for donations ranging from $125 to $1,500. They also come in different sizes and can be laser engraved.

Hackman said the program would be a great way to either remember a beloved pet or engrave the name of a business for long-term advertising.

They also have established GoFundMe and YouCaring accounts online along with a tax-deductible fund at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Brown told the council that when he first attended a shelter committee meeting months ago he wasn’t planning to get too involved. But once he realized the need for it, he said, he wanted to make sure the shelter fundraising was done correctly, so it can last for years to come.

“I’ve worked with shelters and humane societies, and I’ve seen them go wrong and not done right,” he said. “Beyond fundraising, we will have to continue to make sure things are done right so that it does continue.”

Brown credited Ruth Riley’s work at Red Sky Rescue in Medora, a nonprofit dog shelter serving the county since 2008. Riley, who began the shelter on a temporary basis, has worked with the county animal control officer to find homes for stray and abandoned dogs.

Brown said Riley’s health problems and the harsh winters are other reasons the new shelter should be built, because Riley can only do so much on her own with the help of a few volunteers.

Riley attended the meeting and has said she will continue to help with adoptions when the new shelter opens. She has a 93 percent success rate with placing dogs in permanent homes.

Brown said the fundraising goal is $200,000, but even if it is met, the group will continue to raise money to support the shelter.

At a glance

For information, call Debbie Hackman at 812-525-9367. 

One can also visit the Jackson County dog shelter’s Facebook page or visit gofundme.com/pfc6z8

A tax-deductible donation can be made through the Community Foundation of Jackson County.