COVINGTON — The renovation and expansion of Newton County’s Animal Control Shelter are getting a big boost from a local supporter through an anonymous donation of $100,000.
Newton County commissioners were expected to approve a resolution accepting the donation at their meeting Tuesday night.
County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the donor came forward after it became clear that renovation and expansion of the shelter were underfunded in the 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The SPLOST referendum set aside $1.2 million for the Animal Control facility; the BOC on Oct. 1 approved a transfer of $350,000 to the project from the capital improvement fund to augment the project funding.
Even with that transfer, Kerr said, the project was financially constrained.
“Truly, we really could have doubled or even tripled (the SPLOST funding) if we were looking 20 years down the road,” he said. “Even with that (transfer), it was still underfunded.”
Kerr said the anonymous donor was concerned about the underfunding of the project. “They wanted to make sure there is an optimum situation to allow for the adoption of animals,” he said. “One of the reasons we’ve had such a hard time there for a long time with our euthanasia rate was we could only keep animals for a short period of time before we had to make space for other animals. So they wanted to see what they could do to help alleviate that.”
The donation will go a long way toward improving the animal shelter, he said.
“This is a significant step in the right direction,” he said.
Kerr said the funding has been earmarked to provide additional kennel space, which will free up funding for other aspects of the project.
Plans for the animal shelter call for completely renovating the existing building on Lower River Road, upgrading the electrical system and adding air conditioning. A new building will be constructed on the site that will be connected to the existing facility. The new building will be designed so that the facility can be expanded in the future by the addition of modules.
Included in the plans are additional space for cats, small dogs and puppies and large animals, along with more quarantine space.
“The improvements will make it a much more pleasant place for the animals, as well as the staff and — obviously — for the public, too,” said Kerr.
Newton County Animal Control has seen significant improvement in its euthanasia rate since Director Cindy Wiemann came on board last year. Wieman, who serves as president of the Georgia Animal Control Association, said in May that the shelter’s adoption/placement rate reached 83 percent in that month, a record high at that time. Wiemann has worked to secure grants to pay for spaying and neutering of animals at the shelter and works with various rescue groups around the state to find homes for the animals.