HAYDEN — A smiling dog in a neckerchief decorated with pictures of candy corn was unabashed as she rolled on the ground before any shovels made it into the dirt.
As a canine who spent time in the Kootenai Humane Society shelter before being adopted by board Vice President Angie Hanson years ago, it was only fitting that Paris helped officiate the groundbreaking ceremony for the new 24,000-square-foot facility on Atlas Road.
"I think we can feel that it's approved, because she rolled, right?" said an also smiling board President Cindy Edington. "Isn't that a sign of approval?"
About 30 Kootenai Humane Society board members, staff, volunteers, supporters and another friendly canine, Lola, gathered on the 10-acre parcel at noon Wednesday to celebrate the start of a new chapter for the animal-loving nonprofit.
"We’re feeling really good today about being here to break ground,” Edington said. "We’re at about 60 percent of our goal, so this is a big step for us today, especially since this is the 40th anniversary of (Kootenai Humane Society). We have a ways to go, but we’re hoping this is a good start for us to finish up and start construction."
The $6.5 million fundraising campaign rolled out about four months ago for the new shelter, which will be built by Young Construction.
Humane Society supporter and Northwest Specialty Hospital CEO Rick Rasmussen said that when he toured the present facility about a year ago, he immediately was on board to help.
"That’s what sold me. I saw the operating room, and I’m like, 'Man we’ve got to step up. There’s holes in the floor, fences that are duct-taped,'" he said. "They’ve done an amazing job for where they’re at, but we could do better ... We have to do better for our animals and community."
The original building opened nearly four decades ago. With the growing population — which means more pets — the humane society needs a clean, modern building with plenty of room to expand.
“The humane society supports the families and the residents of Kootenai County at such a base level of the human-animal bond," said board member and past president Andy Smith. "We’re just really excited being able to find animals homes and to support people’s lives in our community.”
While the goal is animal health, Smith said having these healthy animals in our community is good for the humans, too.
“Companion animals within a community, it helps create a friendlier town," he said.
The new Kootenai Humane Society shelter is expected to be complete by the end of 2020, depending on the fundraising process. Those who would like to learn about the shelter are welcome to request a free informational presentation and tour of the present facility by contacting Debbie Jeffrey or Vicky Nelson at 208-772-4019.
The humane society does not receive support from the county or any government entities. It relies 100 percent on volunteers and donors.
A major fundraiser called Tails at Twilight will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Hagadone Event Center, 900 S. Floating Green Drive in Coeur d'Alene. The theme is "There's No Place Like Home" to match the 40th ruby anniversary of the shelter. Attendees will enjoy live music, a dinner, raffles and auctions. Tickets are $75 per person.
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