The Safe Harbor Animal Coalition (SHAC) of South Baldwin County is hoping to begin taking in animals within 30 to 60 days at its facility in the Foley area.
“I contacted our builder this morning and they put in electrical and plumbing yesterday,” SHAC Executive Director Stephanie Christie said. “We’re hoping to be able to use the facility at least to house our homeless animals in one to two months.”
Generous donations of time and money have got the facility, which is on the verge of opening, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Officials with SHAC aren’t ready to reveal the location of the shelter to the public until they can begin accepting animals.
“Mona and Jim Brown have donated well over $100,000,” Christie said. “They are committed to having our facility housing animals in 45 days or less. The fundraising is led by volunteers and local business leaders and we’ve raised about $300,000 in in-kind materials for the building, the labor, the furnishings, appliances and cash.”
Once the shelter can begin taking in strays and homeless animals, Christie said another fundraising effort will begin to expand the facilities.
“We still have $150,000 to raise to finish furnishing our surgical suite,” she said. “We have phase one, which will operate two surgical suites and that’s the minimum to get started. Then we have phase two, which is fully functional to house our maximum capacity and that will be four surgical suites. So, we’re just trying to raise $150,000 right now to get it to where it will be at a minimum for two surgical suites. We still can operate and that way we can get going until we can get the additional funds for four surgical suites.”
SHAC was formed from three “trap, neuter, return” groups from the cities of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Foley. Orange Beach was the first to start its program in September 2017 and the others followed a few months later. All three programs were started to control the population of feral cats in those cities.
Late in 2019, the groups formally started SHAC and began to plan for a shelter in South Baldwin County, which has lacked a shelter. While they aren’t taking in animals yet, they have formed a partnership with two other groups to adopt out cats and kittens being fostered by SHAC volunteers.
“We’re partnering with a Guardian Angel foundation out of Mobile and Rock N’ Rescue in South Salem, New York,” Christie said. “We take fully vetted, social and unowned homeless Baldwin County animals — this time it’s only cats and kittens — and we transport them to New York state to Rock N’ Rescue and they find them homes. Permanent, indoor homes. We’re pretty excited about that.”
The health certificates were provided by Dykes Veterinary Clinic in Foley and the animals are scheduled to be transported north on March 21.
“We don’t want our babies to leave Baldwin County,” Christie said. “I’m struggling a little bit myself and so are our fosters. But we know that they are going to indoor-only homes, they’ll have great care, they’ll be out of the cold in loving homes. And that’s what we want.”
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