Proponents of a new adoption facility at the recently opened Blount County Animal Center will take a big step toward realizing their goal when a foundation established in memory of two Alcoa, Inc. retirees gives them $200,000 on Thursday.
The Charles and Sue Fouche Charitable Foundation will move the Blount County Animal Center toward the halfway mark of $490,000 to complete the Phase II “Campaign for Compassion.” Phase II encompasses the adoption center and is comprised of a lobby, surgery center, adoption rooms, featured pet rooms, educational area, director’s office, kitchen and bathing/grooming room.
Chris Protzman, president of the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, along with members of the foundation board will accept the donation Thursday.
Protzman said the Fouches were longtime Alcoa, Inc., employees who were diligent savers. “They were not wealthy people. They worked at the Alcoa factory their whole life and they accumulated a fairly substantial amount of wealth and are giving most of it away,” he said. “They’re no longer with us but there is a lot to be said for what these two people did. They never had children but knew of the problems with homeless animals in Blount County. They left a legacy with the Fouche Foundation.”
Including this gift, the Fouche Foundation has directed $240,000 to the project in the last three years, Protzman said.
“Needless to say we’re delighted with the confidence The Charles and Sue Fouche Foundation continues to have in our effort,” he said. “While residents of Blount County, they were keenly aware of the tremendous pet population control issues facing their community and were very active in animal welfare programs.”
Protzman said the Fouche Foundation has been a bellwether donor since March of 2007 when the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation started. “They’ve been drivers in the initiative to make sure Blount Countians have access to a modern municipal animal center and with this substantial landmark donation of $200,000 for Phase II they’ve put a real exclamation point and challenge to the community,” he said. “This money goes a long way, we’re 50 percent on our way to the $490,000 mark and with these funds we’re over $250,000 toward that goal.”
The Blount County Animal Shelter project original estimate of $1.6 million dollars 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 so basic County Animal Control services can begin out in Blount County and no longer require daily trips to Loudon County, which had offered their shelter services as a 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(s), bathroom facilities and storage.
The Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation has contributed over $580,000 to date toward the total $1.6 million dollar 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.
“This donation signifies a bold step forward and, I hope, signals to other area companies and individuals that we are almost there, but we need your help to get over the goal line. We are so close,” Protzman said. “Now is the time to finish what we began and complete this vision for a modern facility that our citizens can be proud of and our animals will be well served in a humane, caring environment.”
Speaking for the Fouches
Trust attorney Jim Snyder of Tampa, along with Maryville attorney Frank Bird, represented Charles and Sue Fouche when they retired to Florida.
Charles Fouche died eight years ago. Sue Fouche died five years later in September of 2006. About a year after her death, Snyder established the foundation in their name. “The Fouches wanted to create a foundation to benefit what they consider their home community. Even though they retired and moved to Florida and lived there many years, they had warm connections to Blount County,” Snyder said. “The foundation is dedicated to pet population control in Blount County, and surrounding communities to the extent funds are available.”
The Fouche Foundation has also given funds to other organizations such as People Promoting Animal Welfare in Loudon and Greenback and AnimalWorks as well as the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley, Snyder said.
“The primary concern is Blount County itself. This campaign with the adoption center is our whole desire since Blount County is taking responsibility for its pet population control,” Snyder said. “Those animals were previously being delivered to Loudon County – it puts the onus on those organizations in Blount County to pick up the slack.”
Snyder said he was at the facility the first week of November and was impressed with what he saw and the response from the community. “Just in December there were 67 adoptions already. Animal Works has already had over 30 animals referred to them from the facility,” he said. “Our interest is to help see that the adoption center gets online, be a much more meaningful location for people to see animals and be educated for the need for neutering and spaying animals, especially in Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County.”
Snyder said with economic times like they are this seemed like the opportune time to help the Blount County Animal Center. “Government agencies are having a difficult time going forward,” he said. “Since this was started in better economic times, it would be an absolute travesty if it couldn’t get on proper footing to make it work.”
Snyder said even in tough economic times, pets give great joy. “It’s an important ingredient of life - teaching young children to have discipline and take care of something and nurture something,” he said. “With the elderly, especially individuals who are widowed or on their own, to have a pet to provide comfort or companionship, pet therapy has been shown to work.”
Snyder praised the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation board for their work. “I have a lot of respect for the board, they have been absolutely tireless in their energies in working for this facility to come on line,” he said.
Snyder said it is a fact of life that there are stray animals in all communities. “It is an unfortunate fact of life that animals are euthanized. There are just not enough people to adopt all of them and some animals are euthanized for medical or behavioral reasons,” he said. “The fact of life is that there are stray animals in all communities. They have to be addressed, and need to be addressed, in a compassionate way.”
The attorney said organizations like Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation work to ensure the welfare of animals is carried out in a humane and compassionate way.
“I think this collaboration is great for the community. It’s big step for Blount County,” he said. “It won’t be the last time you hear and see from me - that is what the foundation stands for.”