While it will be several months until real shovels hit the dirt for Denton’s new animal shelter, volunteers and city officials will gather Friday for a groundbreaking.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the site at 3717 N. Elm St.
The event is meant to acknowledge the many people who have donated time and money to help the shelter effort, said Bette Sherman of the Denton Animal Shelter Foundation. The foundation raised $2 million to help pay for the building and will present the city with a check at the event.
Officials are still estimating that the new, 16,000-square-foot building will cost less than $5 million to construct, according to Denton police Capt. Scott Fletcher. It may be December or January before a contractor is selected and gets to work, he said.
The shelter will have far more space than the old facility — increasing from 18 to 117 kennels for cats and from 42 to 115 kennels for dogs. It also will have features meant to encourage adoptions, Fletcher said. For example, cats that get along with other cats will be in two colony rooms that open to a sunroom. That leaves them free to climb, play and get fresh air and sun.
Similarly, dogs will have a play yard so that they can socialize with each other as they wait for new homes.
Municipal shelters have been moving toward these features in recent years, Fletcher said. People are better able to evaluate animals when they can watch and interact with them in more natural settings.
The foundation is in the middle of an adoption campaign, part of a competition in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ $100,000 Rachael Ray Challenge. Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, the shelter and its volunteers must adopt out nearly 1,200 animals.
They have found homes for 666 animals, Sherman said.
“We’re more than halfway to our goal, but not halfway from the time [to meet it],” Sherman said.
Denton is competing against many larger cities in its geographical division, including Houston and San Antonio, to make it to the third round.
The adoption campaign has been so successful that Denton has been helping other shelters adopt out animals, Fletcher said, something he could not have imagined when he first came to Denton and started working with the shelter in 2004.
On Friday morning, the front row may be filled by friends and family of Linda McNatt, the new shelter’s eponym.
Her husband, car dealership owner Jim McNatt, donated $500,000 to name the facility after her. Many childhood photos of Linda McNatt show her holding a cat, she said.
“I didn’t venture far from when I was little,” she said. “I feel like I won the lottery to make a safe haven to care for pets.”
She’s excited about the event, even though the weather forecast looks foreboding.
The National Weather Service is calling for scattered thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.
“I know some are hoping for rain, and I can appreciate that, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Linda McNatt said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .