VOL. 116 | NO. 29 | Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Humane society 3-acre new digs on tap
Humane society plans doggone good digs in rural Shelby
By MARY DANDO
The Daily News
Midtowners familiar with the animal murals on the wall of the Memphis Humane Society on Central Avenue will take heart that the many animals housed in the 1,200-square-foot building might soon wag, woof or meow at a new three-acre home in rural Shelby County.
A resolution to approve a memorandum of agreement between Shelby County and the Memphis-Shelby County Humane Society to lease three acres of county-owned land was given the go ahead Monday by the Shelby County Commission public works committee.
Shelter officials hope to build a new headquarters on the west side of Mullins Station Road, south of Patmore Road.
County public works director Ted Fox said the county would be leasing the property to the humane society on a 50-year basis at $1 per year. After that, the lease would be renewed three times every 10 years.
Fox said the humane society would be responsible for building the facility and maintenance with no cost to the county.
Sometimes confused with the Memphis Animal Shelter, which is supported and run by the city, the Memphis Humane Society is a nonprofit organization funded entirely by donations.
Spearheading the fund-raising effort for the new facility will be Al LaRocca, whose wife, Carol, is president of the societys board of directors; Ron Belz, Belz Enterprises; and Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore.
LaRocca estimates it will cost $1million to $2 million to build a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot facility.
"This just isnt going to be a kennel, its going to be a health care facility with twice the amount of HVAC and noise suppression," he said.
"Its going to be a beautiful place out there when its finished," Moore said.
Kathy Simonetti, the societys executive director, said although she is as committed to Midtown as anyone else who lives there, the Central Avenue location was too cramped and she looked forward to having enough space for the animals currently housed at 2238 Central and 710 Philadelphia St.
"We definitely need a more rural location for our animals. Our building here is 1,200 square feet and it houses 20 employees and 80 animals. For one thing, its old and its pretty much beyond repair. And repairing it doesnt really make sense, because we are out of space. Weve no parking spaces that belong to the humane society. We have no public meeting rooms. We have three people in one administrative office. And our volunteers have to walk animals down a very urban, city street or to another block in order for them just to play in a play yard."
The humane society is divided into two facilities. The administrative offices and kennel is located at 2238 Central, and the cat adoption center is at 710 Philadelphia.
Simonetti said part of the problem is having staff strung over two blocks.
"Its difficult to manage and to foster a teamwork environment when half our staff is down the street," she said.
In moving to Mullins Station, the society was going where the population is growing.
"Its the highest growth area in the county, and its a beautiful setting. It will give us enough space to have dog runs, and to be able for our volunteers to walk safely. And, while I live in Midtown and I have invested in Midtown, this kind of operation does not really belong in an urban setting. It really needs to be in a more suburban, rural kind of environment."
"Im not saying the society has no place in a built up urban setting, but its not the most conducive environment, she said.
Simonetti is not sure if the society will continue to keep a presence on Central.
"We do mobile adoptions every other weekend and will continue to do so at the Petco on Highland, so there will be a Midtown adoption option," she said.