Call it the dawning of a new era in animal care.
As Orangeburg County continues work on its new animal shelter on Ellis Avenue, the Maude Schiffley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recently selected a general contractor to renovate the existing Ruf Road animal facility.
Work will begin on the Ruf Road facility shortly after the new Orangeburg County Animal Control shelter is completed. The new shelter is scheduled to be finished in August.
The SPCA and Orangeburg County Animal Control currently share the Ruf Road shelter.
SPCA President Rodney Tumbleston says he hopes to have a final contract with Amco Construction of Orangeburg in the next two weeks.
“The dollar amount of the project hasn’t been determined, but it’s my opinion $180,000-$200,000 isn’t out of the question,” he said. “We are going to have to do quite a bit to that facility.
“We need money but we have started to get some corporate support. The siding has also been donated by a local business.”
In April 2008, Orangeburg County Council approved a 10-year lease agreement with the SPCA for the Ruf Road facility at $1 per year. The volunteer group’s renovation funds will be augmented by a pledge from the county for up to $50,000.
Once completed, the renovated animal shelter will provide the SPCA with its own expanded space for the adoption of unwanted pets.
“The county is agreeing to house our pets in its new facility on Ellis Avenue while the renovation is taking place,” Tumbleston said. “We are in close contact with them to help facilitate the transition.
“We are hoping that we can follow the original construction timeline of 45-60 days.”
Orangeburg County Public Works Deputy Administrator Earl Whalen says the cooperation between his staff and the SPCA on the project has been super.
“My opinion is that the animals and the citizens of Orangeburg County will benefit from this arrangement,” Whalen said. “The end result is that the community will have two first-class facilities that will serve to increase our housing capacity and give the SPCA a greater amount of time to find a home for the pets. They will have first access to animals in our shelter that are adoptable.”
Tumbleston says the anticipated cost of the Ruf Road project will necessitate another fund-raiser.
“We will hopefully enter a capital campaign within the next month,” Tumbleston said. “The dollar amount hasn’t been determined yet and the dates are still tentative but these are some things that are in the works.”
The final construction plans are still being negotiated with the general contractor. But Tumbleston says the facility, a 100 percent no-kill operation, will be more animal and public friendly.
“Right now, Ruf Road has a very small office for us. It’s just not a welcoming atmosphere,” Tumbleston said. “We will also take out walls and expand that area and add a meet-and-greet room for the adoption process.”
The renovation will include the expansion of the cat facility, improved drainage in the dog area, and heating and air work.
“The cat facility is not what it needs to be,” Tumbleston said. “There are 20 cages now and the county can bring in 30 cats a day. We are going to significantly increase capacity there and improve the environment. Part of this will be operating catteries where the animals can roam freely and socialize.
“We also have some plans for what we want down the road, too, like the future possibility of on-site spaying and neutering. This facility will be better than those in our neighboring counties with this renovation.”