The dogs at Watauga Humane Society are in for a major surprise. Last year, WHS replaced all its cat condos; now it is the dogs’ turn to get new housing. Current kennels are more than 10 years old and have seen use by thousands of dogs in that time. The kennels are deteriorating at a rapid rate. Ashlee Yepez, WHS Director of Shelter Operations, indicates that the shelter’s state inspector has warned the kennels will fail inspection shortly. Yepez reports that some dogs have injured themselves by jumping and getting caught in the kennel wire; in other cases, dogs actually have broken the wire, causing serious injury to themselves. The design is also very difficult to keep clean and sanitized.

According to Yepez, a custom design has been developed that should greatly reduce the potential for harm to the dogs and result in better sanitation. Special features of the new kennels will include less use of wire, sturdier construction, and a “fear free” feature that should lessen the amount of distraction the dogs receive in the kennels. The design also provides a new way of feeding that should reduce destructive and unsanitary behavior with food and water.

Custom designed kennels are not inexpensive, but the improved design should last for many years and greatly improve living conditions for the dogs and enhance the care provided by staff. Monique Eckerd, President of WHS, indicates the scope of the project includes removing old kennels (35 in all), resurfacing and sealing of floors both inside and outside, upgrading drainage, and installation of the new kennels. The project could take up to a year to complete and cost as much as $147,000.

According to Eckerd, like most nonprofits, WHS has not been able to hold a number of its major fund-raising activities during CoVid-19 but it must look to the public for help with this important project.

Eckerd indicates that a challenge grant of $45,000 has been established which will match every dollar raised up to $45,000; donations toward the overall cost are being accepted and a limited number of kennel naming opportunities are available. See www.WataugaHumaneSociety.org for further information or contact WHS directly at (828) 264-7865.

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