Shelter for Blount

Plans unveiled for Blount animal care facility

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By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

If the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation’s plans come to fruition, adopting a pet at the animal shelter won’t be a sweaty, unpleasant experience.

Chris Protzman and Rick Yeager of the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation unveiled plans for an 8,600 square feet facility that, if built, could serve more than 3,600 animals annually in Blount County. They estimated the facility would cost more than a million dollars to build and $330,000 to run annually.

The presentation was made at the Blount County Animal Control Committee meeting March 8 at the Blount County Courthouse. Protzman, president of the foundation, estimated that about 6.5 animals a day are dropped at the Maryville Animal Shelter on Home Avenue. Two-thirds are owner surrendered, he said.

Protzman said the new animal facility will have air conditioning and be a much cleaner, brighter environment than the Maryville facility.

"The whole point is to have adoptions," said Protzman. A facility that is bright and clean is more inviting, he said, making adoptions more likely because the facility fosters a pleasant experience for the prospective pet owners.

Protzman said air conditioning also creates a healthier environment for animals. Cooler temperatures in kennels can stop the spread of disease, he said.

Yeager, a foundation board member, outlined the specifics of the proposed facility and unveiled an artist’s conception of what it would look like. It would have a classroom, adoption rooms, a surgery area, break room, locker room with showers and a surrender area. The 8,624 square feet facility will have kennels to house up to 146 animals, he said.

Yeager said the proposed facility would have the capacity to serve 3,600 animals a year. "We feel a facility of this size would accommodate hold times of four to 10 days," Yeager said.

The color renderings were done by the husband of employee of the company where Yeager works. Allen Hoshall and Associates has agreed to donate services to design the facility. This is about $15,000 worth of work, he said.

The plan calls for outdoor runs for the animals and sections of the kennel portion of the facility could be blocked off to isolate animals when needed, he said.

Yeager said about five acres would be needed for the facility. It would cost about $1.158 million to buy the property and build the structure," Protzman said.

"It may take years," Protzman said, "but we hope not. We’re reaching out. We’d like large donors to step up," he said.

Protzman said it would take about $330,000 annually for the new facility to operate. They could bring in about $300,000 if contracts were established with Blount County, Alcoa and Maryville to take their animals. Another $125,000 could be generated through annual fees from volunteer licensing.

Protzman said the facility is just one part of the solution regarding animal control issues in Blount County. He got involved in searching for a solution after Blount County’s animal control contract with Maryville expired at the end of 2006.

"We’ve spent 10 weeks marshalling services and resources to develop what we think is the best solution for long-term animal care in Blount County," Protzman said.

Protzman said animal control professionals from Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties all contributed in creating this proposed solution.

"Our community is full of people who give of themselves," he said. "Our idea is to be a conduit for that concern."

Protzman said his foundation has three goals: generate community involvement to encourage spaying and neutering of pets to control the animal population; construct an animal facility and to create a more humane region regarding pets and stray animals. "All four surrounding counties have expressed support," he said. "These plans were all the best practices given to us by surrounding counties," Protzman said.

According to Protzman, the basis of the idea for the new facility is that it would be a public/private proposition. The foundation president talked about how the facility would foster education regarding animal population control. Spaying and neutering can extend the life of an animal. Economically, spaying and neutering makes sense because for every $1 spent on the procedures, it saves $3 in dealing with over-populated strays, he said.

Protzman said the facility would be a kill shelter because the shelter would take any animal dropped at the facility. The facility will have room for up to 146 animals at a time.

In a nod to supporters of no-kill or limited-intake facilities, Protzman said the foundation supports those operations also. "Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation wants to be on the record supporting limited intake facilities," he said, but there would be a draw back to having an animal shelter that was a no-kill or limited intake facility. "A limited intake facility would be overrun in 30 to 90 days," he said.

The new animal facility needs to be a kill facility out of necessity to control animal population, he said. "Certainly, this is the first line of defense," he said. "It needs to be all access."

The foundation has filed to obtain 501-C 3 status as a non-profit entity in order to raise money. They have begun raising money to purchase land for the new animal facility, he said.

Besides raising money from donors, Protzman said additional funds for animal control and for the new facility would be generated by volunteer licensing of animals. "Even voluntary, it’s something that should be discussed," he said of licensing.

Once the new facility is built, the foundation can engage support from other volunteer animal care organizations.

Protzman said planners don’t want this facility to be a final destination before the animals are put down. "It’s all about getting them out," he said. "It’s a stop over. We want them in loving homes," he said of the animals.

In addition to his work with the foundation, Protzman is general manger and vice president of Journal Broadcast Group - Knoxville operations. The company owns radio stations 93.1, Star 102.1, Hot 104.5 and Studio 1040 AM.

For information regarding the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, go to www.smokymountainanimalcare.org or call 865-824-1700.

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