Rowan animal shelter gets a makeover; pets get chance at a new life

Volunteers spruce up Rowan County animal shelter

rclemons@herald-leader.comMay 26, 2011 

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MOREHEAD — With help from national groups, the Rowan County K-9 Shelter is undergoing an extreme home makeover of sorts.

The animal shelter is getting new beds, new roofing and other repairs that will benefit its inhabitants, now numbering about 30. The shelter takes in roughly five dogs a week and sees hundreds each year, said Vicki Fragasso, director of development for Petfinder.com Foundation.

The work is led by the Petfinder.com Foundation, Animal Lifeline and its group, Rescue University, which educates people on ways to help find homes for animals. Sponsors for the rehabilitation effort include Bissell Homecare Inc. and The Animal Rescue Site.

"The idea is to place more pets in loving homes," said Bissell spokeswoman Emily Valentine.

In Rowan County and other parts of the region, shelters see problems with overpopulation and often have to euthanize animals.

But a local non-profit, STAR — Saving the Animals of Rowan — has worked for 5½ years to find homes for many of the shelter's dogs, thus reducing the number that have to be euthanized.

STAR vice president Jan Dacci said animals are transported every Saturday from the Rowan County shelter to states in the Northeast such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where spay and neuter laws limit the number of animals available for adoption.

"This shelter has gone from having to euthanize way too many animals ... down to two dogs a month," said Bryna Donnelly, outreach coordinator for Animal Lifeline's Rescue University.

Jen Daley, transport coordinator for Animal Lifeline, worked with STAR to coordinate the shelter makeover in Morehead.

"I realized that they were really savvy on picking good dogs and doing good rescue work here," Daley said.

Student volunteers from Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., and Michigan State University joined the effort by making waterproof, floating dog beds and assisting with roof construction.

Delaware Valley student Kim Bergen, who assembled dog beds, said it was interesting to help at a smaller shelter; she is used to two- or three-story shelters at home.

"It makes you feel good about yourself," Michigan State student Julia Bergen said. "It's humbling to come from something that's bigger."

Morehead State students Micah Fryman of Cynthiana, and Jessica Strickland of Louisa said they found out about the effort to help the shelter through friends.

Fryman said her main goal was to make the dogs' living conditions better.

"I want to save all of them," Strickland said.

Fryman said she is working to start a club on campus that would help shelters like Rowan County's.

"We want to recruit more local kids so they can keep going when they're gone," Donnelly said.

She said the organization is working on a similar project in Menifee County and hopes to go national eventually.

Volunteers will work on repairs until Wednesday or until the project is finished, Valentine said. Fragasso said about 40 animals will be transported north and put on Petfinder.com to finish the project.

"The best thing is helping these guys out," Delaware Valley student Erica Traynor said. "Hopefully they'll find a home."

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