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Heritage seniors rally around Humane Society

 

Members of Heritage Academy’s senior class have adopted the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society for their service project this year. The students will hold a three-week letter-writing campaign in November to raise money for the completion of the Humane Society’s new facilities.

Members of Heritage Academy’s senior class have adopted the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society for their service project this year. The students will hold a three-week letter-writing campaign in November to raise money for the completion of the Humane Society’s new facilities. Photo by: Courtesy of Heritage Academy

 

Carmen K. Sisson

 

Slowly, but surely, the new Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society is beginning to take shape.  

 

The 8,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor kennel is slated for completion by the end of the month, with one side of dog pens completely fenced and gated and the second side still lacking fencing and windows.  

 

Director Karen Johnwick said the $1 million project is slightly behind schedule, and they're still trying to raise $400,000 to begin the second phase, which will include office space, cat rooms, classrooms for pet education seminars and a surgical suite for spaying, neutering and other medical care.  

 

The classrooms and surgical suite are critical in the fight against pet overpopulation, Johnwick said.  

 

Last month, the shelter took in around 250 dogs and cats; nearly 70 percent were euthanized. 

 

Johnwick believes the new facilities, and the brighter, cleaner environment, will benefit animals two-fold: It will be cleaner and healthier for them, and it will be more pleasant for patrons, hopefully resulting in an increase in visitors and adoptions.  

 

Donations were steady when they began planning the new building, Johnwick said, but contributions have slowed over the past few months.  

 

"I don't know what happened, but money has just kind of trickled down," she said. "It's been really slow. In the beginning, everyone was really excited, but it's hard to want to donate when you can't see the product right away. People don't have that extra disposable income." 

 

Heritage Academy students are hoping to change that.  

 

The 57-member senior class has chosen the Humane Society as their service project this year, with their primary focus being to raise funds for the new building.  

 

They recently raised $300 during a "Spirit Night" at Chick-fil-A, and they will hold a three-week letter-writing campaign in November to solicit donations and supplies. On Nov. 3, they will hold a 5K charity run. 

 

Recently, the members of the Homecoming Court eschewed their tradition of giving gifts to one another, opting to give $600 to the shelter instead. 

 

"They were very excited," coordinator Margaret Swedenburg said of the project. "We have some strong animal lovers, and they thought this would be something they could all enjoy, something they could ride by and say they had a hand in building." 

 

The Heritage senior classes have a reputation for raising big dollars, said Beth Lucas, director of admissions and public relations. The Class of 2010 collected $250,000 for the construction of the new playground at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. 

 

Johnwick said she hopes to begin moving animals into the new shelter by the beginning of the year.  

 

"We're just really excited and look forward to working in a safe environment," she said. "I think the shelter will be a nicer place to go and hang out. If anyone can contribute at all, it would help make our dream a reality." 

 

The new, 6.2-acre site is located on Airline Road, not far from the current shelter, which was founded in 1953 as the Lowndes County Humane Society, changing its name to the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society in 1976.  

 

The shelter receives a monthly stipend from the City of Columbus and Lowndes County.

 

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.

 

 

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