ABBEVILLE — Abbeville County christened its new animal shelter Saturday, three years after county officials originally floated the idea.
Shelter volunteer Mary Hill said volunteers worked throughout Friday to prepare the shelter for its grand opening Saturday morning, at which time County Animal Services Director Jessica Bridges said the shelter’s 22 dog kennels and 12 cat condos held 10 adult dogs, eight puppies, two kittens and a single adult cat.
Most of the dogs had just spent their first night in-house after being transferred from Abbeville’s city shelter, County Director David Garner said. Garner added that he doesn’t yet know the future of the city shelter, which Bridges said has 14 kennels, of which nine were in regular use.
In addition to separate rooms for kenneled cats and dogs, the new shelter features separate sick rooms and an adoption room for potential owners to play with and get to know their future pet. An outdoor play field is still in the works, Garner said.
The adoption room is key to the shelter’s “conversational” adoption process, which begins as soon as someone looking to adopt walks through the shelter door. From there, Bridges said, shelter workers try to match them with a pet that meets limitations on breed, size, age and even their potential owner’s lifestyle.
“It’s not like you’re coming to pick out a new T-shirt,” said Bridges, who arrived in Abbeville in March after two years with Anderson County PAWS. “You’re finding a part of your family. So, we do our best just to help narrow that down for them.”
Bridges said the city shelter has seen a 90% rate of live release since March.
Garner said the shelter was among the projects in mind with the county’s proposal of a capital project sales tax in 2016. The tax failed to receive voter approval, but passage of a general obligation bond the following year provided $250,000 in funding.
A pair of grants totaling nearly $50,000 followed, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but Garner said costs were kept low by keeping almost all of the project’s labor in-house rather than subcontracting.
“It saved us a lot of money,” Garner said. “You look at this facility and you’re probably looking at at least a $750,000 facility if we weren’t to build it in-house, and so far we’re still tracking under the $200,000 mark.”
The shelter, at 79 Old Calhoun Falls Road, is open for adoptions from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Appointments must be made to surrender any pets.