Jun. 1—Workers were putting the finishing touches on the new building at the Whitfield County Animal Shelter on Tuesday. But employees are already using the office space in the building. And county officials said it will be ready for the public to view during its grand opening on Friday, June 10, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
"We've been trying to get the numbers of strays down and get our adoptions up," said Commissioner Greg Jones. "This expansion is a big part of that."
The 1,800-square-foot building is next to the existing building at 156 Gillespie Drive.
The shelter has moved its offices and exam room into the new building, which also houses the shelter's first "bonding room." That room will allow people to come in and interact with a dog or a cat and get to know it before they adopt it.
The expansion is being funded with $200,000 from the four-year, $66 million 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). A SPLOST is a 1% sales tax on most goods sold in the county.
Last year, the Atlanta Humane Society agreed to provide up to $30,000 for the shelter to buy up to 20 stainless steel kennel cages. Those will be placed in its existing building, which has been turned into a holding area for animals waiting to be taken for adoption as well as animals that come in and are completely up-to-date on their vaccinations, to keep them away from the stray population.
The shelter will also have an enhanced outside exercise area for the animals with authentic fire hydrants provided by Dalton Utilities.
"This has been a long time coming," said Commissioner John Thomas. "I hope people are able to get to the grand opening and see how their tax dollars have been spent and what a great improvement they have made. (Animal Shelter Director) Diane Franklin and her staff do a great job. We want to help them get those animals into good homes."
Humane Society of Northwest Georgia Executive Director Jonathan Shatz said he didn't know the details of the expansion but said it is good news.
"We've got such a need in this county," he said. "If we had five times the space we do, it probably still wouldn't be enough. I'm sure it's the same there. Anything we can do to get animals adopted is good."
County commissioners in 2018 passed a law requiring most pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats in the county.