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HOPE answers animal shelters plea
1105 HOPE donation to shelter 1
Dena Stapleton, vice president of Helping Out Pets in Effingham, presents a $1,150 check to Bill Cowan, adoption coordinator for the Effingham County Animal Shelter. HOPEs donation will help the shelter buy outdoor kennels where the shelters dogs can run and play. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The Effingham County Animal Shelter recently put out a call for donations to purchase dog runs for the facility.

Fittingly, shelter supporters took the request and ran with it.

“In two weeks and one day from when we started, we have hit $3,020 (in donations),” said Bill Cowan, the shelter’s adoption coordinator.

A four-figure donation from the non-profit organization Helping Out Pets in Effingham put the shelter over its $3,000 fundraising goal. HOPE received contributions from seven backers and also matched the first $400 in donations, adding up to a check for $1,150.

The HOPE contribution was in addition to the $1,870 the animal shelter received from 14 donors after Cowan spread the word online and through local media. He also sent emails to shelter supporters, who in turn shared the message with others.

“It got out there fast,” Cowan said. “I put it out as much as I could and let everybody run with it.”

HOPE vice president Dena Stapleton did the same, putting a plea on the organization’s Web site. The response was slow at first, with only $5 donated, so Stapleton wrote a second online post.

“All of the sudden, that day the donations started rolling in,” she said.

A run is a fenced-in area where a dog can exercise outdoors while remaining safely confined. Dogs at the shelter will enter the individual kennels through slots in the back of the building.

The runs will be side-by-side, so, even though the dogs will be in different kennels, they will be able to see each other. Along with the dogs getting more exercise, the runs also will help in the day-to-day management of the shelter.

“They’ll be able to have a lot more time out in the sun,” Cowan said. “At the same time, we’ll be able to close them out while we clean the inside (kennels) instead of having to pull them out and just have them on chains.

“When they go out, they’re going to see the other dogs side-by-side, whereas (in the indoor kennels) they hear them through the walls and don’t see them,” Cowan continued. “I think it will be more beneficial health-wise and attitude-wise for the animals.”

Cowan expects to purchase six dog runs with the $3,000 donation. The shelter hopes eventually to add more of the outdoor kennels, he said.

The shelter initially planned to raise $2,400 to buy 12 dog runs at $200 apiece. However, Cowan said, they switched to higher-grade kennels made of rust-resistant galvanized steel following a test run of the less-expensive pens.

“The dogs were just chewing right through that lower-grade fencing,” he said. “We couldn’t go with that and trust it with dogs side-by-side.”

While the fundraising goal for the outdoor kennels has been met, the shelter always has needs for its animals. With the temperatures getting colder, the shelter is asking for donations of blankets and comforters to keep the dogs warm at night. The shelter has plenty of towels, sheets and pillow cases at the moment, and specifically needs blankets and comforters.

The Effingham County Animal Shelter will participate in the Springfield Dog Expo on Nov. 15 from 9 a.m.-noon at Ulmer Park.

Guyton Animal Hospital will offer an on-site rabies clinic for $10. The expo also will include pet adoptions, grooming tips, training demonstrations and vendor booths.

A 5K run and 1-mile walk at 8 a.m. will raise money for the animal shelter. Registration is $25 for the run and $10 for the walk, and is available at