Note: This story was updated at 10:20 a.m.
CLAXTON—A new animal holding facility in Anderson County gives the county a place to hold stray dogs and dogs held for other reasons, such as animals rescued or taken away from crashes, drug busts, and drunken driving arrests, officials said Friday.
The new 12-kennel Anderson County Animal Holding Facility is on Blockhouse Valley Road in Claxton, at the Blockhouse Valley Recycling Center.
It helps the county deal with a shortage of space elsewhere, including at the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said.
It’s not a shelter yet, but that’s part of the long-term plan. Officials and volunteers said the holding facility is just the first step for them.
“It’s just a start,” Anderson County Animal Control Officer Brian Porter said during a Friday afternoon ribbon-cutting attended by roughly 180 people. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
There are various requirements for holding dogs depending upon whether they are a stray with or without identification, such as a microchip, and whether they are a bite dog that needs to be quarantined. The hold periods range from three to 10 days.
Unlike a shelter, a holding facility does not do adoptions or vaccinations. But after the holding period is up, the Anderson County Animal Holding Facility can transfer a dog to a shelter, such as those in Oak Ridge or Roane County, Porter said.
He said shelters are generally larger and more expensive, and they can do surgeries.
“This is like Phase I,” Porter said of the holding facility. “The next phase is going to be a shelter.”
Officials said the 720-square-foot animal holding facility, the first in the county, cost about $25,000 to build. It was built by the county on county property with help from local contractors and inmate labor.
Anderson County Commissioner Robert McKamey, who previously chaired the county commission, said the 16-member legislative body unanimously approved the initial $25,000 for the holding facility.
The facility opened about four weeks ago, Porter said. There are only dogs there now, he said. Someone is there seven days a week, at least twice a day, and more during the week.
Officials and volunteers have raised $32,000 so far, Porter said.
Former Anderson County Commissioner Robin Biloski, who now lives in Florida, made the trip back to East Tennessee for the Friday ribbon-cutting.
Biloski, who volunteered to help animals when she lived in Oak Ridge, was a member of a task force that spearheaded the holding facility project, Frank said.
“She is the woman with the heart and the fire burning that brought all this together,” Frank said of Biloski.
“This little building is the beginning,” Biloski said, before reading a list of names of those who have contributed various amounts to the project, including some who gave more than $500 each. All that money is going to capital expenses, Biloski said, and the Anderson County Commission will have to fund operations.
Biloski helped announce $25,000 for the project in July. The first donation of $10,000 was announced by Ed Steinebach, general manager for Magna International’s Eagle Bend Manufacturing plant in Clinton. A matching donation of $10,000 was announced by Eileen Slater from her and NOAH Companion Animal Center in Marlow. The third donation of $5,000 was announced by members of S.A.R.G. (Shelter Animals Rescue Group), a nonprofit organization.
Biloski said fundraising is ongoing.
Clinton High School’s B.A.R.K. (Bettering Animal Rescue in the Knoxville area) presented $2,000 for a future shelter during Friday’s ceremony.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See more photos here.
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