AHWAHNEE – Plans for a new low cost spay/neuter adoption facility here in the mountain area are now on the fast track. The application for a conditional use permit was submitted to the Madera County Resource Management Agency (RMA) by the Eastern Madera County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (EMC SPCA) on June 11.
The proposed building site, located just across Highway 49 from the Wasuma School in Ahwahnee. It is expected that the approval process will take about 90 days.
Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting on June 28, EMC SPCA board member Tom Burdette shared the plans for the new site.
“The SPCA has been working on this project to get a low cost spay/neuter adoption facility here in Eastern Madera County for more than 20 years, but in the last few years things have really accelerated thanks to the Honorary Mayor campaigns.”
The cost for the 8,000 square foot facility will be approximately $1.25 million. The money is now available to do all the ground work, and fundraising will continue to raise the money for the structures on the site. Once the plans have been approved, it is anticipated that the site work will be done and the building can begin in about 18 months.
Burdette and other volunteers have been working closely with the County and District Supervisors Tom Wheeler and Ron Dominici on how to proceed with a long term lease and the permit for the facility.
The approximately 6 ½ acre site will be home to a state-of-the-art center for dog and cat adoptions, low-cost spay and neuter programs, emergency response resources, feral cat programs, laboratories and an operating room, isolation areas for animals brought in for evaluation, plus meeting rooms for educational opportunities and a park area if people just want a nice place to take a walk with their dog.
“There will be facilities on-site for emergency response material in case of a major fire where animals have had to be evacuated and relocated,” says Burdette. “Also we will be able to respond to people who are in need of having their animals evacuated.”
Ideally, the first structure to be put in place would be a pole barn.
“It is the least expensive structure, and would allow us to open up other space that is currently filled with emergency response items,” says Burdette. The pole barn would also allow space for stalls to deal with large animals such as horses.
When asked if this is a “no-kill” shelter, Burdette said, “all animals will be adoptable. If we take an animal in and we accept that animal, it will be here until it is adopted. One exception might be if they are brought to us in such condition that they are not viable. Hit by a car, too sick to survive; in a case like that they may have to be euthanized. Otherwise, if they are admitted and are part of our facility, they will be here until they are adopted, or they may be transferred to another facility that we have agreements with.”
The architectural firm of Alan T. Hendry has submitted the plans for the building, and all the permits are in place to begin ground work on the site. The plan is to have the lease in place, have the foundation done, the water, the septic, the power, the grading and the roads, so that the EMC SPCA can then go to the community to raise the $950,000 required to build the building itself. That dollar figure will be reduced by donations from the honorary mayor campaign of John K. Burton, and other fundraising efforts which are ongoing.
“We are in the process of working with the Board of Supervisors to develop a long-term lease agreement,” says Burdette. “We need to have the lease in place, so that when we go to raise money, people know that this is for real. We have a piece of land, it has been evaluated and it’s ready to build on. All they have to do is provide funds for the building itself.
“Every dollar that we have received has come from Eastern Madera County communities. We are not getting money from anywhere else. There is no government funding and no cost to the taxpayers.”
The EMC SPCA is looking toward the future as they plan this new facility. The building has been designed to allow for future expansion, and the septic system has been designed so that the water can be used for irrigation.
“We’re not only doing something that is important to the community, but also what’s best for the environment,” says Burdette. “Grade design is to have minimum impact on the land, and not a single heritage tree will be disturbed on the property.
“There a lot of ways that people can help with the fundraising. In fact one example is that part of the cat area has been taken on by a family who has gotten together and said, ‘We want to support the building of this area as a memorial to our family member.’ And so they set a goal for themselves of $250,000. They are actively working to have the money for this portion of the facility raised on their own. If anyone else would like to take on a puppy house of a dog park in your name, contact us we will assist you on getting started.”
According to the EMC SPCA 2011 newsletter, “we anticipate an annual operating budget of $125,000. As you can see, there is a lot to do before construction can begin. The community has generously supported us through the years, and now we need you more than ever. I think we all agree that this project is of great importance to the mountain community.”
“You can see out by the highway the sign that says ‘proposed future home,” says Burdette. “We’ll it’s not just proposed anymore; it will be!”