Friends For the is one step closer to its goal of building a new facility.
Dearborn City Council and shelter representatives met Thursday night to discuss the possibility of collaborative efforts to construct a new 20,000-square-foot shelter. The meeting yielded a letter of intent from the city supporting the effort and pledging to look into donating a parcel of land on which to build the shelter.
However, they are not willing to commit to putting any city funds into the $4 million project at this time.
President of the shelter's Board of Directors Laurie Baur asked council members to give serious thought to assisting with building a new facility for the shelter, which is city-owned and partially funded by city dollars.
“We’ve demonstrated consistent financial growth and we’ve raised significant amounts of money in events, philanthropies and grants,” Baur told the council. “Just as an example, for 2011, the city invested in us $75,000 and we returned $950,000 worth of services in terms of budget."
“We have met our business plan even in difficult financial times, and we really need a new shelter,” she pleaded.
The shelter was formed as a private, nonprofit organization in 1993. Currently, their facilities are located on Greenfield Road. The 4,000-square-foot shelter houses close to 187 animals per day in its main facility, as well as several additional trailers to help with overflow.
Though an exact location has not been pinpointed, the new facility would hopefully be somewhere half-way between the east and west side, according to shelter Executive Director Elaine Greene.
Mayor Jack O'Reilly, who was not present at Thursday's meeting, has said that he hopes to give the shelter the space occupied by the current Amtrak train station once the new station opens in 2013.
But first, council agreed, the shelter needs to raise the $4 million necessary to construct the shelter–a capital campaign they have been working on for years, engaging a network of more than 20,000 individual donors, as well as thinking bigger.
“Typically when you do a capital campaign you go to people that are engaged in animal care,” said Greene. “Hopefully we’ll get a lot of large donations from individuals. We’ll also be looking at corporations, too.”
Despite mutual agreement that the shelter needs to take on the bulk of the fundraising for the project, Baur pressed the council on the urgency of the situation.
“Not only is it limited space, we’re limited in terms of anything we can do more than just sheltering the animals,” said Baur. “The plumbing system is not good, the air quality is not good, we have isolation warrants for the animals that are sick, but it’s tough for air care.”
But for Greene, who has been with the shelter since 1993, any progress is good news.
“It is exciting that we can finally move forward with our plans," she said. "It’s been a long road and we’re grateful for the opportunity that they did come on board with us.”