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Humane Society to close for renovation

Operations manager Nicole Carper and Latrelle O'Cain hold two adoptable Australian shepherd mixes. Operations manager Nicole Carper and Latrelle O'Cain hold two adoptable Australian shepherd mixes.

EDNEYVILLE — It's nearing move-out day for dogs and cats at the Blue Ridge Humane Society, which will be closed three months for its largest remodeling and repair project since the 1980s.

A pair of pups, an English setter-boxer mix, frolic in a playroom, while down the hall cats in the cats room do what cats do, sleep. Last week the kennels in the back were home to only about 15 dogs, less than half the capacity of the shelter.
In part because of state requirements for its license renewal but also because an update is badly needed, the animal shelter is temporarily shutting down while contractors complete the makeover. The workers will replace flooring, baseboards and ceiling tiles, install a new, more efficient heating and air conditioning system and realign the kennel area.
That last part of the job will create two aisles through the dog kennels and reorient the cages so dogs face away from one another. That should greatly reduce barking, since dogs tend to bark at one another. It should make dog shopping more appealing to prospective pet owners.
"Every part of the building will be touched in some way," said operations manager Nicole Carper. "We are inspected every year by the state and there are certain criteria we have to meet to pass inspection. Some of the things we need to fix are some of those items of concern, such as the rusted out kennel frame."
A big change will save operating costs and keep the dogs and volunteers more comfortable year-round.
"The temperature has to be regulated, and it's really difficult for us," Carper said. "We make sure that we keep it regulated to keep the dogs comfortable but it's not a very efficient system because we've got a steel building that's not very well insulated. The amount of propane that it takes to keep the dogs warm in the wintertime — it's crazy the amount of money we've been spending on heating.
"And there's no cooling system back there at all, so during the hot summer months we're constantly blasting fans."
New floors will improve the looks, too.
"We clean with bleach; bleach is very corrosive," Carper said. "Over the years it definitely takes a toll on the building. It's been since the '80s that this place has been updated."
The Humane Society prides itself on an adoption-centered mission. The Humane Society has a good relationship with the county pound. Carper and volunteers visit the pound to take adoptable dogs. Unlike All Creatures Great and Small, the animal shelter that tried to accept all the dogs and cats people brought but had inadequate space for them, Blue Ridge strictly adheres to its space limit.
"We won't take them unless we have space. We don't euthanize for space here," Carper said. The shelter also won't take a dog just because the dog has no home.
"It's based on behavior," she said. "If an owner calls and says my Labrador got out of my fence and bit three children and now I need to find him a new home, unfortunately, that's not one we're going to be able to rehome. Typically something that's a bite risk, we don't feel comfortable putting that back out to the public."
The shelter staff evaluates a dog's behavior before admitting the animal. Everything is geared toward adoption, matching the dog with a person or a family that will keep the pet forever.
"We don't believe in bringing a dog into the shelter just to bring a dog in the shelter, and keeping it here in the kennel for the rest of its life," Carper said.
Blue Ridge Humane Society is a non-profit organization run by a 14-member board of directors. It raises money through its popular thrift store on Greenville Highway and through fundraising events like the Wags-to-Riches dinner, dance and silent auction on Sept. 29.
"We're very grateful because the community has been very generous in its support," said Lutrelle O'Cain, the Humane Society's director of administration. "We're fortunate to live in an area where it's so great to own pets."
The Humane Society hopes to adopt the remaining dogs and cats before it has to close for the renovations. Barring that, it will ask for volunteers to foster-care the animals until January. To learn more about adoption or fostering, call 828.685.7107.