By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The City Council gave its blessing and the Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter have the green light for constructing a new facility when it has secured enough funding.
A commitment of $1 million to the shelter — $400,000 of that being land given to house the new building and the rest a cash contribution — was approved by the council at its Sept. 9 meeting.
“It’s exciting and we’re thankful for the support,” FFDAS Executive Director Elaine Greene said.
The new shelter will be in the site currently used by Amtrak for its station behind the 19th District Courthouse, which Greene said will be a better location for the shelter.
“The location is going to be much better because it’s going to be located in the city complex with the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center and city hall,” Greene said. “Right now we’re kind of tucked away and hidden and it’s really not a well-traveled area. Sometimes people have a difficult time finding us.”
The current shelter, at 2661 Greenfield Road, is a 4,000-square-foot facility that housed 2,789 dogs and cats in 2013, with an average daily population of 50 dogs and 132 cats and an additional 103 total animals in foster care.
She also said the shelter is in need of a new facility because the current one was made for short-term animal stays and the FFDAS need more space for the animals they house.
“Part of the reason that we need to build a new shelter is that the shelter we’re in doesn’t adequately support the programs that we have and it is old and antiquated,” Greene said. “The new shelter will allow us to have better animal housing so that the animals will be healthier. It will also be a better experience for the public to come to a better building.”
She added that the new shelter is not a want of the FFDAS, it is a need.
“We have to do this for the animals,” Greene said.
The FFDAS has a goal to raise over $5 million for the project, with about $4 million of that going toward the construction of a new facility.
Greene said the FFDAS needs to raise about $2.5 million more to start construction.
“If we meet our goal, our hope is to break ground in 2015,” Greene said. “We are very conservative and we want to make sure that we have the money pledged before we break ground so we don’t start the project then have to stop.”
The FFDAS hosts more than 40 events annually to raise money for operational costs, but Greene said those fundraisers are just for operational costs and that events for the new shelter are separate.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)