The newly formed South Bryan Animal Welfare League is looking to the community for help in creating a no-kill shelter in Richmond Hill.
SBAWL President Nancy Baker said two things need to happen in order for the shelter to become a reality. First off, the group must receive approval from the Bryan County Commission to lease the land at their projected site near the existing Bryan County Animal Control shelter at the Hwy. 144 spur. The group must then raise the projected $1 million in building expenses.
Baker recently appeared before the commissioners recently, and they have agreed to consider her request for a lease option on the projected site.
Baker said the idea for this project sparked when she read about an article in the Bryan County News, of developer Johnny Murphy’s idea to place a humane society at that location. Baker then visited Murphy, who gave her a list of others who are also interested in the project. Baker said this list became what is now the core group of SBAWL.
Baker said there is a need for a no-kill shelter because many in the area are afraid to turn in stray dogs and cats to animal control for fear of euthanization.
"The Richmond Hill Animal Control shelter generally doesn’t hold animals for adoption," Baker said. "The only nearby options for animal adoption right now seems to be the humane societies in Chatham or Liberty County or to Petsmart in Savannah. It shouldn’t have to be that way."
Baker said the proposed shelter is projected to have the initial capacity to house 20 dogs and 30 cats, but "as the county grows and the need grows, we hope to increase the holding capacity. Even with those numbers, we hope to turn those pets around within a month. This would add up to 400-600 animals adopted out each year – which is close to the number of animals that are being euthanized in Bryan County."
Baker, who currently runs a pet sitting service, said he has encountered many people who have recently moved to this area and are both surprised to discover there is no humane society here and also are willing to dedicate time to such a cause.
Baker said one of the long term goals of SBAWL is to put a dent in the growing stray cat population in Richmond Hill via a "trap, alter and release" method.
"Ideally, I would like not to see any unplanned litters out there," Baker said. She said there are "very large pockets of cat populations in numerous pockets throughout the county" and humane measures need to be taken before the problem becomes even worse. Studies show that a single female cat and her offspring can produce 120,000 kittens in seven years.
"As this community grows, this need will continue to become greater and this will become even more important in the future," Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said.
Baker said "the need is right here, right now" and the group would like to have the building come up in by 2010, but a lot of fundraising has to take place in order for that to happen. SBAWL is also looking for volunteers.
"Even if they don’t want to be board members, we are planning to create committees for our fundraising events and we need all the help we can get," Baker said.
The membership cost to join SBAWL is $25, with that money to be set aside for shelter operating costs. Collected funds over that are slated to go toward building costs.
Among the SBAWL fundraising events in the works are a dog wash, a golf tournament and a "membership drive kickoff hoopala" at the Fort McAllister Marina on August 26.
"This is a long term project, and it will be such a wonderful amenity to the county," Baker said. "We need to act now because lives are being lost in the interim."
For more information on SBAWL, contact Baker at 727-4823. Contributions can be sent to SBAWL, 3633 Fort McAllister Road, Richmond Hill, GA 31324.