A drop-in event with light refreshments and tours of the facility are planned from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We just want to invite everybody to come out and celebrate,” said Lori Kekel, rescue and event coordinator for the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. “A lot of people have never been in this building.”
Cherokee County took over operations of the animal shelter, located on Univeter Road, in 2000. The shelter, designed to hold 75 animals, was overcrowded with an animal population hovering at 175 or more on a regular basis.
In 2002, with the help of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds, the county built an adoption facility on the site, adding 14,000 square feet of space.
Since the opening of the adoption building a decade ago, about 25,000 animal lives have been saved, Kekel said.
“That’s adoptions, plus rescues, plus reclaimed animals,” she said.
The adoption building and intake building together allow the shelter to care for more than 250 animals at a time.
The shelter only adopts out dogs and cats, but Kekel said the shelter has received animals of all kinds and partners with rescue groups to care for more unusual animals. Sick and elderly animals are also accepted.
The animal shelter’s 17 employees have help from quite a few volunteers. Kekel said at least 25 people volunteer at the shelter on a weekly basis. The average month sees more than 50 different volunteers.
“Most of our volunteers are here for animal enrichment,” she said.
Those volunteering through Shelter Friends take the shelter’s dogs for walks, play with the animals and help with events.
Volunteer Carol Mudd said interactions with animals at the shelter include playing games and doing puzzles with the animals, as well as helping animals’ mental health.
“When dogs get into a shelter situation, they’re sometimes stressed, or it’s difficult for them to relax,” she said.
At least 20 high school seniors every year volunteer at the shelter as their senior projects. Mudd said even young children can volunteer alongside their parents at the shelter, sitting and playing with cats in one of the adoption building’s two themed cat rooms.
“Some people are sad to see the animals in here, but they’re well taken care of and safe,” she said.
For Mudd, seeing a dog adopted into its “forever home” is the best part of volunteering.
“Not just getting the dog out, but placing the appropriate animal with the appropriate family,” she said.
And it all happens in the adoption building that marks a decade of service this week.
As shelter employees and volunteers celebrate 10 years in the adoption building, there are more building improvements on the horizon. In 2013, SPLOST money will be used to construct a new intake building for the shelter.