OWENS CROSS ROADS, AL (WAFF) - The doors have officially opened on a new no-kill animal shelter in Owens Cross Roads.
On Saturday, hundreds came out for the ribbon cutting on the Hunter Stephenson Rescue Center on Hamer Road.
It's run by nonprofit Feline and Canines and it's designed to cut down on euthanasia rates due to animal overpopulation.
The organization will move dogs and cats out of full shelters across North Alabama and temporarily house and care for them at the new center.
Then, twice a week, they'll be transported to other no-kill shelters throughout the Midwest where they'll will have the chance to be connected with loving families.
Shelter officials say the facility is the first of its kind in the nation.
"There are no other shelters that exist right now in our country that sole purpose is providing temporary housing for relocation to areas of need for adoptable animals. This is what we are considering to be our first very model facility that we're hoping to be able to replicate throughout the south," said Kelly Thompson, Director of Development.
Felines and Canines will transport around 50 dogs and 20 cats each week.
They thanked the community for their support in getting the shelter up and running to save the lives of thousands of animals each year.
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 Rescue Center will take dogs and cats from animal control facilities in Athens, Boaz, Decatur, Huntsville, Lawrence, Madison, Marshall, and other counties in need.
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