The fundraising campaign to rebuild the Waco Animal Shelter passed the midpoint this week with donations from two foundations.
Waco City Council this week accepted a $100,000 grant from the Cooper Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the H-E-B Foundation.
The campaign has now raised $810,000 of the $1.5 million goal it has set for private contributions. The city of Waco is planning to contribute $500,000 toward the $2.5 million shelter project. The city also is asking for a $250,000 contribution from the county and an equivalent amount from surrounding cities.
The project will replace two decades-old kennel buildings and create a new adoption center and veterinary clinic while expanding intake and quarantine areas. City officials hope to break ground on the project this summer.
The project already has received $100,000 from the Rapoport Foundation, and campaign officials are seeking other large contributions from the Waco Foundation and Meadows Foundation.
Felicia Chase Goodman, Cooper Foundation executive director, said her board is enthusiastic about the direction the shelter is going as the city of Waco has taken over management and partnered with rescue groups to lower the euthanasia rate.
“It’s been really wonderful watching what those groups have done to turn the situation around,” Goodman said. “The mayor’s leadership has a lot to do with it, but we can’t discount what the other entities have done, such as the (Animal Birth Control) Clinic and rescue groups coming together to decide, ‘We have a problem. Let’s do something to fix it.’ ”
The city of Waco took over management of the shelter in late 2012 from the nonprofit Humane Society of Central Texas and spent money for major operational upgrades. The city put the Humane Society in charge of adoptions.
The animal shelter in recent months has maintained a live exit rate of about 85 percent, said Don Bland, Humane Society executive director. That is just a few percentage points away from the 90 percent rate needed to be designated a “no-kill” facility.
He said the new shelter will free up more space for hard-to-adopt animals and will draw more potential adopters to tour the shelter.
“I think a lot of people are going to come to see the opening,” Bland said. “A lot of people don’t come now because they remember how it used to be. It’s better now, but there’s still that stigma.”
Assistant City Manager Wiley Stem, who oversees the shelter’s operation, said fundraising volunteers have heard a good response from community members about changes at the shelter.
“It’s pretty clear to everybody that we’ve done everything we can and then some with what we’ve got,” he said. “We need a new shelter to get us into position to become a no-kill shelter.”