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Local animal shelter is getting a new home

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Karly Johnson picks up a dog to move it from one fenced yard to another Tuesday afternoon while working at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. The board of directors hopes to break ground to build a new shelter by the end of the year.

NATCHEZ — Like many of their clientele, the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society has been looking for a new home.

And now they’ve found it.

NACHS Vice President Sue Stedman said the humane society has a 5.1-acre site at 445 Liberty Road under contract and will soon be closing on the property.

One side of the property is bordered by St. Catherine Creek, she said, and it has no direct neighbors. The society previously had objections from neighboring residents when it proposed expanding its current location.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Patty Polk opens up a crate to feed three cats soft food Tuesday afternoon at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. The humane society has plans to build a new shelter less than a mile down Liberty Road from the current structure.

“One of the things we were trying to accomplish was to find a site that did not have any adjacent neighbors,” Stedman said.

“In the new style of construction that is used for shelters, the noise level is greatly reduced, so I don’t think that will be a problem in the future, but we still wanted to find a site that had some distance and would hopefully provide a better situation for everybody.”

NACHS will construct a new shelter on the site — Stedman estimated it would cost approximately $1 million — and is working with a Virginia-based architect who specializes in building veterinary offices and other structures that house animals. Members of the society first met the architect at the Humane Society of the United States’ animal care expo.

“(The architect) has a reputation for designing efficient animal shelters,” Stedman said.

“We want to provide the best, most durable product we can for the least amount of money, and that is what this guy does.”

The existing shelter at 392 Liberty Road is not large enough, Stedman said, and does not have all of the elements of an up-to-date facility.

“When you start looking at new shelters, the kenneling and the housing of different species of animals is different,” she said. “You try to provide a better experience for those animals than just being in a cage. We are trying to upgrade and build a shelter and be confident that we are providing a safe haven for these animals.”

The move should not be understood as a reflection on the work of past humane society members, Stedman said.

“(NACHS) has done an unbelievable job with what they have to work with (at the old shelter).”

In 2008, a group of interested individuals donated a property on Col. John Pitchford Road and spearheaded a board-approved fundraising effort for a new shelter. After questions arose about the possible costs associated with that site, a second proposal — an expansion of their current property on Liberty Road — resulted in a number of members of the society withdrawing their support.

The dispute eventually ended with a mediator, and a review of how NACHS was operated. One of the agreements that came from the mediation was that three of the seats on the board of directors were replaced in November, and in the future three board members’ terms will expire each year.

The new board of directors was tasked with taking a fresh look at the shelter project and adopting a planning process.

The group expects to break ground at the new site by the end of the year.