OWENS CROSS ROADS, AL (WAFF) - Overcrowding in North Alabama animal shelters has prompted a new kind of rescue facility in Madison County. It's designed to cut down on euthanasia rates and save the lives of thousands of dogs and cats each year.
Animal lovers will be happy to hear about the Feline and Canines Rescue Center coming to Owens Cross Roads.
Construction is wrapping up at the no-kill facility.
It will move animals out of full shelters and temporarily house and care for them at the new center on Hamer Road. Then, twice a week, they'll be transported to adoption facilities throughout the Midwest where they'll will have the chance to be connected with loving families.
"We are going to be able to bring in high volumes of dogs and cats and provide them with everything they need for the ability to transport them and relocate them very quickly," said Kelly Thompson, Director of Development.
Felines and Canines noticed the overpopulation problem as they were helping transport animals from Alabama to their facility in Chicago.
"Plain and simple, there are more animals than there are homes for them," Thompson explained. "We realized there was an issue here in Alabama. The more we explored and the more research we did and we talked to heads of different intake facilities, the need was so great. There are adoption centers down here, we just don't have the opportunity to be moving the volume of animals we need to be moving, which results in euthanasia."
In some local facilities, she says euthanasia rates are more than 50 percent.
"More than half of the animals that enter the doors will never see the sun again. It's a tragedy. Our philosophy is simple, supply and demand. We have more supply of adoptable animals in the south and we have the demand up north. So why are we not connecting the dots and reducing these euthanasia rates when you have people who want the animals. You just have the animals in the wrong location," she added.
The dog kennels are coming together at the new facility. There's also a grooming area, exam rooms and a cat room. Painting will be done and epoxy will go down to make disinfecting easy. Custom kennel doors are being made.
The Rescue Center will take dogs and cats from animal control facilities in Athens, Boaz, Decatur, Huntsville, Lawrence, Madison, Marshall, and other counties in need. When it opens, it will be able to house and care for more than 50 dogs/puppies and 30 cats/kittens at any given time.
"Felines and Canines Rescue Center was born with the idea that this would be a safe housing facility where we could immediately move animals out of overcrowded intake facilities, temporarily house them here at our intake facility where we will give them all of the emotional, physical and medical care that they need to be happy, healthy and ready for transport. Then twice a week, we will relocate them to adoption centers up north where they have an opportunity to be connected with forever families," Thompson stated.
They're looking to transport approximately 50 dogs and 20 cats each week.
"When you do that math and multiple it over a year, we're talking thousands, over 3,300 animals and that's a conservative projection on our end. So this is something that can make a very drastic and very tangible difference on the euthanasia rates across Northern Alabama," Thompson said.
She added that area rescue shelters and organizations have been going incredible work.
"They have tackled this problem head on and they've made great progress but unfortunately, it's just not enough. The problem is bigger than what's being done right now. That is where we identified a need. If we can work together and fill in each others gaps, that's how we're going to unit to make a big picture difference," she explained.
It's something the organization hopes they can replicate in other Southern states dealing with the same overpopulation problem.
"If we have a safe housing facility where we can temporarily hold these animals, get them healthy and coordinate transport to receiving rescues, we can start a spider web effect across the south where we can drastically reduce these euthanasia numbers of adoptable animals simply be connecting them with receiving rescue who have adopters who are waiting for them," Thompson stated.
A ribbon cutting on the new facility is set for June 2. It will be named after Hunter Stephenson. His family made a very generous donation as a tribute to the Huntsville teen who passed away 14 years ago.
"The family approached us and said that they felt that the very best way to honor his memory and his legacy would be to sponsor the rescue center," Thompson said. "It's beyond touching and humbling. We are excited to honor Hunter in a such a special way by saving thousands of lives. This space is going to be a very comfortable home away from home while we're relocating."
Felines and Canines Rescue Center is now raising operational funds. If you're an animal lover and want to donate, you can go to their website to find out more. In-kind donations are also needed like beds and blankets for the animals.
"We need money to open our doors. We are a mere $40,000 away from having all the funding we need to open our doors the second construction is done and start saving lives. We have received tremendous support from the community and we are continuing to reach out," Thompson revealed. "If you love animals and want to reduce these euthanasia numbers, Please consider donating any amount you can to help get us up and running."
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