The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society has moved into its new facility at 400 N. Rufe Taylor Road after spending 45 years at its former location on Hal Henard Road.
The new 8,000-square-foot shelter is about 3,000 square feet larger than the organization’s old facility. The new facility also sits on 8 acres, compared to the former facility’s 3 acres.
The building was designed by local architect Dave Wright and built by local construction company Idell Construction Company.
During a tour of the new facility on Thursday, Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society Director Amy Bowman called the new shelter facility “a dream come true,” and expressed gratitude to everyone in the local community who helped make the new building a reality.
“We appreciate our community supporters, our donors, our board, our volunteers, Dave (Wright) and Jeff (Idell). If it weren’t for all of the above and all of their support and hard work, then this dream wouldn’t be a reality. I am just so grateful for everyone who helped make this happen,” Bowman said.
Work on the building was finished on Dec. 15 of 2022, and since then Humane Society workers have been busy moving animals and operations over to the new facility.
Plans began percolating for a new shelter in January 2021, with the original plan being to locate the shelter on the former Hal Henard Road property.
However, it became clear to Bowman, Idell and the local Humane Society board that more acreage would be needed to build the facility.
Idell said board member Mickey Ellis found the property on North Rufe Taylor Road that is now the home of the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society.
The facility is built to last, said Idell, the president and CEO of Idell Construction.
“We built this building purposefully for longevity. It’s masonry construction that will hold for a long time. This is meant to be at least a 60- to 80-year building, there’s no doubt about that,” Idell said. “It’s really been fun and enjoyable to build something that will meet the needs of animals and families in the community for years into the future. It’s wonderful.”
The facility was intentionally designed from the ground up, with Bowman helping with a lot of the design ideas, according to Idell.
Dogs are kept on one side of the facility, while cats are kept on the other side.
Bowman said that was done on purpose so that the “cats may never see a dog” while at the shelter.
“It can already be stressful in a shelter, so that helps take away some of the stress the cats may experience being around dogs,” Bowman said.
The new facility includes a larger lobby and work areas, isolation areas for sick and injured cats and dogs, exam rooms, separate cat and dog utility and supply rooms, improved ventilation and cleaning systems for the purposes of preventing the spread of diseases, and odor-control mechanisms. The shelter also contains a central vacuum and a 120-gallon hot water heater.
The facility includes 16 indoor/outdoor dog runs and 16 outdoor exercise yards for dogs, three cat rooms, and two outdoor patio spaces for cats, which Bowman refers to as “catios.”
“One thing I’m really excited about is the catios in both of the cat rooms. The cats have 24-hour access to the outside whenever they would like,” Bowman said.
The catios have special-made, small-gauge chainlink fence surrounding them so the cats cannot escape.
Idell credited Bowman for thinking of nearly anything and everything the facility might need when designing it, such as the special chainlink fence for the catios.
“Amy has been very good at thinking through the details, having a vision for this place. She knew all of the needs for this facility,” Idell said.
Bowman said Idell and his crews put together the facility perfectly, and that the construction company was chosen intentionally since Idell Construction had built veterinary clinics and animal medical centers before.
“They had some good experience that made them a good fit for this kind of project,” Bowman said.
Bowman noted that the dog runs in the new shelter have ditch drains that are easy to clean and flush out. They also are clog-resistant.
In the former shelter, each individual dog run had an individual floor drain in it. Bowman said they would often clog and lead to wet floors.
The floor in the dog area is now crowned toward the ditch drains and with more airflow, which keeps the area dryer and cleaner.
The exterior part of the dog runs can all be opened up into a large back yard behind the shelter.
The area contains sidewalk, walking paths and a large donated gazebo, and resembles a public dog park.
The outside area provides a place for dogs to be walked and a place where dogs and prospective owners can get to know each other.
“It’s been cool to watch people walk out and see the backyard for the first time. It turned out so well, people can’t believe it,” Idell said.
Idell Construction was also able to install a specialized electrical hookup for the mobile spay and neuter clinic that visits the shelter, which will now visit more often thanks to the hookup.
Shelter Manager Janet Medcalf said the mobile clinic will visit the shelter frequently as other rescues’ and shelters’ clinics are hosted at the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society.
“It makes us feel good, because we have space to invite other shelters and rescues now, where before we couldn’t really do that,” Medcalf said.
The mobile clinic can spay and neuter 35 to 40 cats and dogs each day it is at the shelter, according to Medcalf.
Intentional design choices were made when outlining the building in an effort to make it welcoming, Bowman said.
From large pictures of cats and dogs, colorfully painted walls, and lighting cords that look like balls of yarn, Bowman wanted the new shelter to be “a happy place.”
“We wanted this to be a happy-looking building. The artwork and design are a big part of that. When people walk in, they can feel happy and feel like this is a happy place. Some people think that shelters can be a sad place and feel uncomfortable going to them, but that’s not the case here. We want people to come in and feel happy because this shelter is a happy place,” Bowman said.
Idell said the colors and art were a simple change that make a big difference.
“We had a good interior designer at Dave Wright’s architecture firm that did a really good job with all of those touches that didn’t cost a lot, but help keep the space fun and artistic. A painted wall here and some art there makes a difference,” Idell said.
Bowman and Medcalf were thankful for all the donations the shelter had received even as they transitioned to a new facility.
Those donations can now be stored in a new 1,200-square-foot climate-controlled storage building that was constructed next to the new shelter.
Bowman said that in talking with other shelters in the region, each one said they wished they had more storage. That led to the extra storage facility being built at the new local shelter.
“It takes a lot of donations to run this place, and we don’t turn anything away,” Medcalf said.
“It is because of all of the support from the community that we can feed these animals good quality food that is good for their digestion and healthy for each individual animal. We couldn’t do it without the support we get,” Bowman said.
The shelter will also still collect aluminum cans form the public at its new location to support the animal shelter, just as it has done for decades.
“We still have our can donation place here, and if we are closed, people can still leave their bags of cans at the gate and we will get them,” Medcalf.
Medcalf said the shelter sees about 100 adoptions each month. She believes that number could double with the new facility. She also said the shelter plans to expand its volunteer program.
The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society will also boast expanded hours at its new location. The new shelter will be open noon- 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. It has been open noon- 3 p.m. at the old location. The shelter will be closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The new shelter will open its doors to the public for the first time Tuesday.
As a nonprofit organization, the Humane Society’s operations are supported year-round through donations, which can be made online at the local Humane Society’s website at www.gchumanesociety.com or mailed to the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society at PO Box 792, Greeneville, TN 37744.
The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society can be reached by phone at 423-639-4771.