Work on the long-awaited Columbia County Humane Society's low-cost spay-neuter clinic broke ground Wednesday.
"Our goal is no more homeless pets," said Donna Evans, the county's humane society president. "When you go to animal control, the only thing they should be putting down one day is something that is not adoptable. It can happen if there is an aggressive spay-neuter program."
The first phase of the project, which was initially estimated to cost $300,000, includes the 1,800-square-foot spay-neuter clinic and the three-acre dog park in the back of the property. Inflation costs skyrocketed, Evans said, increasing expenses to about $800,000.
Evans said she plans to use an acre of the land to add an agility course to the off-leash dog park.
Plans to clear that land will likely begin after the clinic is finished, she said.
The clinic will be run by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers.
The building company for the project, R.B. Wright Construction Co., was scheduled to begin pouring concrete Thursday, and the facility is estimated to be finished by September.
The clinic, located on a 13.7-acre lot on Columbia Road across from the Grimaud Place subdivision, will have tan stucco exterior with a green metal roof, Evans said.
She said that columns and long windows in the front of the facility will give the building a residential appearance.
The society hopes to run a voucher program with the county, Evans said, offering a spay and neuter discount for animals adopted from Columbia County Animal Care and Control.
Also, Evans said she wants to provide free spaying and neutering for the indigent population and aid the elderly with those services.
The clinic isn't just reserved for Columbia County residents and will also extend to other counties in the area.
"Dogs don't know what their address is," Evans said. "Cats don't know their address. They need to be fixed to help this problem."
Nearly $300,000 has been collected through fund-raising efforts. The society also received a $485,000 loan from Queensborough National Bank and Trust in Evans.
The nonprofit organization's long-term goal is to raise $1.5 million.
Evans said the society operates partially by individual donations. Reeves Construction Co. donated about $2,000 worth of supplies. Macuch Steel Products donated $4,000 in supply costs, and William Macuch presented the humane society with a $6,000 check Wednesday during the ground-breaking ceremony.
"My goal is to help them raise enough money to pay their bills and make this a success," Macuch said. "It'll definitely be a nice facility."
The second phase of the project will begin once funds have been raised and the clinic and dog park are completed. Plans include a no-kill shelter and an educational room for school children.
Evans said the society hasn't yet decided on the spay and neuter costs, but said the organization is dedicated to making the prices affordable.
"It's going to be as cheap as we can make it," she said.
For information, contact the humane society at (706) 860-5020, or visit www.columbiacountyhumanesociety.org.
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