PetSafe founder Randy Boyd on Tuesday donated $250,000 to the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation to complete the Blount County dream that began Sept. 1, 2007. The donation completes Phase II of the Blount County Animal Shelter. The donation wrapped up a $490,000 capital campaign to build out the shelter and include an adoption center, education classrooms and surgery facilities.
Boyd said he asked the 250 Knoxville area employees before Christmas if this was a donation they wanted to make, and they overwhelming agreed it was a good move. “As a team we came together and decided this was something wanted to do. A lot of our associates live in Blount County and it was important we be able to do this,” Boyd said. “We decided we could afford to do it, we wanted to do it and we had to do it; if not us, who?”
With a goal of raising $490,000, the Phase II “Campaign for Compassion” officially launched Sept. 1 with a $50,000 donation from long-time Blount County residents Don and Carol Story in honor of their current and past pets. In January, The Charles and Sue Fouche Charitable Trust donated $200,000 to the campaign, raising the reserve to over the halfway mark.
The Phase II estimated cost of $490,000 includes the Adoption Center portion of the Blount County Animal Shelter comprised of the public lobby, surgery center, adoption rooms, Featured Pet rooms, educational area, director office, kitchen and bathing/grooming room.
Chris Protzman, president of Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, praised Randy Boyd and his staff at PetSafe. “They have been with us from the start, dating back to March of 2007. This grant has been a goal of theirs for the last several years, and we are delighted to have this support at this critical time of the project,” he said.
Protzman said the donation was announced on an appropriate date, Feb. 23, National Spay Day. Spay Day is about educational outreach on the benefits of Spay and Neutering to reduce unwanted pets and reduce shelter populations, he said.
“This Adoption Center will be at the epicenter of that effort here in Blount County thanks to the Storys, Fouches and now, PetSafe,” Protzman said.
County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said the event was a culmination of a 3-year journey that began when the county’s contract with the City of Maryville ran out, and the county was left without animal control for several months in early 2007. Loudon County contracted to take Blount County’s stray animals at their facility until a facility could get up and running in Blount County. In early November, the Blount County Animal Shelter opened with capacity to house animals, and Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation continued their efforts to raise funds for completing the adoption center portion of the facility.
“This is a shining example of public/private partnerships,” said Cunningham. “I can’t say enough about the commission. They’ve been such a help to me on so many issues, but this may be their shining star. It was a bad situation but the county commission, the foundation and several individuals stepped up.”
Cunningham said the adoption rate at the animal shelter is at 60 percent. “It will go higher when the adoption center is built out,” he said. “A facility of this design is meant to foster adoptions.”
A variety of dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the donation.
Blount County commissioner Peggy Lambert said, “It’s one of the finest examples of a public/private endeavor. We’ve got a great director and volunteers.”
Louisville alderman Joe Gallagher used a baseball analogy to describe the magnitude of the donation. “This is wonderful. Today is a homerun,” he said.
New county finance director Steve Jennings held a puppy up for adoption and said he appreciated how the project came together. “This is just a perfect example of people and companies coming together to do something good,” he said.
Emily Straquadine with SMACF said it is impressive how people from all walks of life came together to fund the facility. “We had a guy who religiously donated $20 a month, and we had people with deep pockets,” she said. “This facility will make a huge difference.”
Headquartered in Knoxville, PetSafe is the industry leader in the management of pet behavior, offering pet training, containment, safety and lifestyle product solutions. PetSafe introduced the first do-it-yourself electronic fence to the pet market in 1991 and the first wireless fence in 1998. PetSafe’s product line up includes kennels and electronic underground fences; bark control systems; a selection of remote training products; pet doors; pet identification collars; heated wellness products; pet feeders and a growing line of lifestyle products. For more information about PetSafe, visit: www.petsafe.net.
The Blount County Animal Shelter project original estimate of $1.6 million was established mid-2007 when the initial Phase I was started with seed money of $350,000 from the Blount County Commission. Since that initial allocation, the Commission authorized another $197,000 to get Phase I operational in a “bare bones” state. This was so that basic County Animal Control services could begin a base in Blount County and no longer require daily trips to Loudon County, which had offered their shelter services as stop-gap for the county to use until the Center was operational. Phase I was defined as basic Animal Control services including kennels, administrative office, bathroom facilities and storage.
Upon Phase II completion, Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation will have contributed more than $1,080,000 toward the total $1.6 million construction project. The major construction donor Brunton Masonry has lead the group along with contributions by Willocks Block, Harrison Concrete, Vulcan Materials, Ameristeel, Tindell’s Supply, Webb Plumbing, Garage Doors of Maryville and Anderson Truss filling out the list of significant material and gift-in-kind donors.
Donations can be made to: Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, P.O. 7218, Maryville, TN 37802, by calling 865-824-1700 or by email at www.smacf.net.