On a beautiful Thursday morning, under blue skies with fluffy white clouds, Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey, Jr. and Crossville Mayor James Mayberry presided over ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the brand-new Cumberland County Animal Shelter facility on East Road.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’m happy to be here,” Mayor Carey told 105.7 News. “I got elected in 2010 and I’ve been on a mission to change the outcome for animals in a very positive manner.”
Dozens of onlookers, many in colorful animal-lover or rescue-themed T-shirts, gathered to observe the festivities. “Great things are happening for animals here,” said Cyd Riede, one such supporter.
Volunteer Alan Baker said the former shelter building is now being used solely for animal intake and quarantining diseased animals. “This is just for adoptable animals,” he said of the new building.
In the 10 years Animal Shelter Director (and self-described Chief Pooper Scooper) Andrea Gaskins has been with the Cumberland County Animal Shelter, the facility has gone from about an 87-percent euthanasia rate to three percent. “Ninety-seven percent come out alive,” she said. “The greatest portion are through rescue.” She called AARF (All About Rescue & Fixin’) “our biggest rescue partner,” adding they do transports to other parts of the state and the country about once a week. Gaskins said FOCCAS has also been a key player, and the facility’s high rescue rate has truly been a group effort, with “everybody working together. We work with everybody we can,” she said, adding the actual adoption rate for this facility is about 10 percent.
After the ribbon cutting, Gaskins led a tour of the facility, leading onlookers past a visitation room, where would-be adopters may interact with prospective pets – and even bring their current pets to visit to get a feel for how well they’ll interact. The tour proceeded through the kitten room, where several frolicking furballs mewed and reached curious paws through the bars of their cages as people passed by.
In the next section, the older cats lounged on cushy beds or slumbered in furry heaps, dreaming of the day – one day soon, they’re promised – when their “catio” (an open-air screened recreation area) opens.
Through a door at the end of the cat area, the volume increased markedly as a dozen or more dogs vied for the attention of passersby. The shelter’s 16 kennels – constructed by Mike Harvel with help from Gaskins – can hold up to 32 adult dogs, or 50 puppies.
C.J. Butch of Crossville was visiting the new facility with her grandchildren. They took their time strolling through the dog area, stooping to visit with one or another of them, then oohing and ahhing over the kittens.
“They want to come back and read books to the dogs,” Butch said, holding little 1-year-old blonde moppet Reece.
Teresa Bryerton of Fairfield Glade has been fostering kittens for the shelter – and she said she has the scratches to prove it. She said the new facility will improve the chances of animals finding their forever homes. “It’s a nicer building. It’s a better adoption experience,” she said. “But dogs have a better chance of getting adopted in this community than cats.”
Onyox Cane, a one-year-old bulldog mix told 105.7 News he’s looking for his furever home… but for the time being, he’d be happy just to go for a walk. A volunteer who identified himself only as Bob, said the pooch would get his wish (for a walk, at least) once most of the visitors left and things settled down a little bit.
The shelter is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.