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Archive for Monday, December 25, 2006

Humane Society dogged by lack of funds

Campaign to raise money for renovations off to slow start

December 25, 2006

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Here's one campaign that people actually are hoping will go to the dogs.

Leaders with the Lawrence Humane Society hope to raise about $470,000 to make needed repairs and expand the shelter. But thus far the fundraising effort has been going slowly, four months after it was announced to the public.

"We haven't gotten the large donations that we need," said Midge Grinstead, the society's executive director.

The society has amassed $120,000 since announcing in early September that state animal health authorities had ordered it to make a large number of repairs to the shelter at 1805 E. 19th St. The total includes $50,000 that the shelter had in a reserve fund.

Shifting ground underneath the shelter, along with drainage problems, have caused floors to buckle, ceilings to warp and parts of the metal siding to rust away on the building that was constructed in 1994.

Grinstead said she's still hoping to get construction work started in mid-January, but said a construction loan now may be necessary to complete the project. The society's board of directors has plans to get more aggressive in fundraising by sending out pleas for support to area businesses and select individuals in early January.

If enough money isn't raised to cover the cost of the project, Grinstead said she'll likely have to ask the Lawrence and Douglas County commissions to provide additional support. The city already provides about $260,000 in operating revenue and the county provides about $30,000 of the society's approximately $700,000 budget.

"I really don't want to go to them for more funding," Grinstead said.

But simply delaying the project is not an option, Grinstead said, after state inspectors earlier this year determined that the society needed to start making repairs to the building to maintain its license.

An inquisitive mixed-breed terrier acknowledges a visitor at the Lawrence Humane Society. The animal shelter needs to raise about $350,000 to make needed repairs and expand the shelter.

An inquisitive mixed-breed terrier acknowledges a visitor at the Lawrence Humane Society. The animal shelter needs to raise about $350,000 to make needed repairs and expand the shelter.

"They've been really good to work with," Grinstead said. "They said as long as we start the work, they'll take that as a good-faith effort."

The construction project, though, will include more than just repair work. Grinstead said the society is planning on adding 18 feet to the eastern end of the building - enough to provide room for 16 new dog runs for use by puppies and increase the number of adult dog runs from 13 to 18.

The expansion will allow the shelter to end the practice of housing puppies in small kennels that measure 4-by-3-by-3 feet.

The expansion also will include a screened-in porch area that will serve as a place for cats to receive fresh air and sunlight, something that doesn't happen often with the current setup.

Jaclyn Iden, an employee at the society, said the expansion should greatly improve the lives of dogs and cats at the shelter.

"The puppies definitely won't be as messy because they'll have more room to run around," Iden said. "And the current situation does get really stressful for the cats because they are kept in the same area as the dogs, and they're barking all the time. This new area will let them be separated."

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