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Feeling lonely during the pandemic? Adopt a pet

Matthew Lane • Apr 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Like most folks in our region, the employees at the Kingsport animal shelter are doing their best to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shelter is closed to the public, there’s plenty of cleaning going on, and employees are maintaining their distance.

And yet, over the past month since the shelter limited its hours and access, employees have still been able to adopt out or foster 30 animals.

Shelter manager Donna Davidson said if you’re interested in adopting a cat or dog, you can still do so by appointment.

“We’re doing appointments by phone and we’re doing curbside adoptions,” Davidson said. “Though the shelter is closed to the public, we’re still here.”

ADJUSTING TO A NEW NORMAL

PETWORKS Animal Services, which manages the shelter on Idle Hour Road, adjusted the facility’s hours and days of operation nearly a month ago under the guidance and direction of state health officials and the governor’s office.

The shelter switched hours to 1 to 5 p.m. every day but Wednesdays and Sundays, but will not be accepting surrendered pets unless the owner has passed away or is in an emergency situation.

Two animal control officers are essentially working from home, but will only go out for emergency calls, such as a dog bite, and on welfare checks, Davidson said. The shelter is still taking donations of pet food and supplies and has posted every dog and cat in the facility to its website and Facebook page.

In fact, the shelter has had a successful Facebook Live adoption event and plans to do future ones, Davidson said.

“If someone wants to come and see several different animals, we’re not going to do that. If there’s one you’ve seen online ... we can make that happen,” Davidson said.

The shelter has fewer than 30 dogs and around 35 to 40 cats. Typically, the shelter has 70 to 80 dogs at any given time.

FUNDRAISING EFFORTS ONGOING

PETWORKS is building a 17,000-square-foot shelter on a 3.5-acre site off East Stone Drive just east Cleek Road — between Clayton Homes and Kingsport Used Tires.

Once complete, the facility — dubbed The Good Steward Adoption Center — will include room for 180 animals, isolation rooms for both dogs and cats, dedicated adoption spaces, an educational area for animal care and training, larger workspaces for employees and a 1.2-acre dog park on the rear of the property.

Construction has been underway for months and earlier this month, PETWORKS was planning to kick off its community campaign to raise the remaining $800,000 to finish funding the $3.5 million project.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that kickoff had to be postponed. However, donations are still being accepted.

“We realized that would not be a good time to go public, contacting people and having events, so we kicked it into neutral,” said Tom Parham, president of PETWORKS. “We’re making preparations to kick it off hopefully in two to three weeks, depending on when things start opening back up.”

In the meantime, PETWORKS officials and volunteers are planning and working on communications, focusing their efforts on the upcoming community campaign. 

“By the middle of next week, the roofing should be done, so when we do kick it off it’ll give us the backdrop of the building,” Parham said. “That should definitely help us with the community campaign.”

For more information, visit petworkstn.com.

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