Humane society gets land donation

Published 9:17 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

Local animal advocates and supporters of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society are looking toward the future of a new, modern and roomy shelter thanks to the generous donation of five acres of land from the Earl Nichols Family.

The land, located off U.S. Highway 84 (Dothan Road) on Zorn Road, is just the beginning of the realization of hopes and dreams of those who work in the overcrowded conditions at the current shelter.

Carol Lewis, current president of the Bainbridge Decatur County Humane Society Board of Directors and board member Dennie Nichols are spearheading the project for a new shelter.

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They describe the land as being cleared and zoned, ready for construction.

The group plans to kick off a major fund raising campaign in the fall to raise the necessary money to build a new and roomier facility — one with better conditions for the animals as well as the volunteers who work there.

Shelter Director Beth Eck said she and the people who work with the shelter are ecstatic about the donation of the land. “We can hardly wait for a new shelter. We are looking at plans and funding ideas and availability of grants. This donation will surely get the ball rolling. It can’t come soon enough.” She expressed her thanks to the Nichols family for their love of animals that inspired the donation.

Their ideal facility will have a separate reception area and office for the director, larger facilities for the animals, outdoor dog walks – an outdoor play area where they can run and play without having to be on a leash. A cat room where they don’t have to be in cages, but can climb and play on towers.

They also want to add an educational program — one where school groups and others to learn about the proper care of animals. “Part of the Humane Society by-laws state it should lend itself to education,” added Lewis.

Lewis and Nichols said their plans are to kick off a major fund-raising campaign in the fall. One idea will be for donors to “purchase” a dog cage. Ideally, they would like to see separation between the cages. It makes for less anxiety and stress for the dogs.

“We are shooting for a total of a million dollars, but will probably build in stages as finances permit,” said Nichols. “We figure it will take one year for planning, design and raising enough start-up money,” added Lewis.

Speaking for the Nichols family, Dennie said the future plan is to see what happens after three or four years. “If this develops with community support, then we’ll donate more land.”

Members of the Nichols family have always been animal advocates, according to Dennie, who adds, “The animals can’t do for themselves; they have to have our support. This has always been my dream to see a new and better shelter.”

The Humane Society and shelter workers do so much with so little. Figures kept from May 31, 2005 to May 31, 2013 show the shelter took in 11,500 dogs and 18,629 cats during that period.

“We do our best to place them in loving homes,” said Lewis. “Many of those who are not locally adopted go to rescue, thanks to the volunteer services of Pilots N Paws, who usually do weekly fly-outs.”  They point out the new shelter location is also more accessible to the airport.

The two have met with city officials and plan to meet with county officials at the next commission meeting to explain their project.

Mayor Edward Reynolds said the city has done as much for the shelter as they could in its present location. “We are in support of seeing a new shelter being built.  We know they need more open space. The generosity of the Nichols family in donating the land is a great catalyst to get this project rolling.”