RIDGWAY – In as little a six short months, the dogs at Second Chance Humane Society’s Angel Ridge Ranch animal shelter will be moving out of their current makeshift accommodations and into a new purpose-built “dog den.”
A surge of community support for SCHS’s capital campaign to raise funds for the Dog Den enabled the organization to break ground on the project on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Ultimately, the new structure will house three times as many dogs as the shelter can currently manage, in a less stressful environment than the current one, that will make them more adoptable.
Total cost for the dog den is projected at $637,000. SCHS has currently raised over
74 percent of this amount, thanks to phenomenal response from an “Honor a Pet You Love” challenge grant, introduced in August. An anonymous donor matched $20,000 in donations toward the capital campaign, yielding $40,000 for the project.
Now, another pledge for a new matching challenge for $40,000 has been issued. Donations up to the next $40,000 toward the Dog Den project will be matched by the new “Sadie's Challenge” to yield $80,000 toward building construction. This will put SCHS within reach of its ultimate fundraising goal to complete construction.
SCHS Executive Director Kelly Goodin acknowledged “it’s a little risky” to break ground on the project before all of the monies are in the bank to complete it. But the organization is close enough to its goal, she said, that the board felt comfortable getting started, while counting on community support to bring the fundraising effort across the finish line.
Breaking ground in the early fall will ultimately save on construction costs, which mount during winter months, Goodin pointed out. “We felt the risk was worth it to save some money and put a motivational carrot out there for more people to donate,” she said.
SCHS received its building permit for the Dog Den from Ouray County last Wednesday and broke ground on the new facility on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Shelter and thrift store staff, SCHS board members past and present, and general contractor Mark Carlson of Mountain Builders gathered at the future site of the Dog Den, in a field north of the barn that currently houses the dogs, to plunge shiny new shovels into earth as backhoes buzzed behind them.
A few excited shelter dogs joined in for the photo-op, one of them helping out by enthusiastically digging a hole of his own.
For founding SCHS Director Sharon Wilcox, it was an emotional moment. “We always hoped we would get to this point,” she said, where a purpose-built shelter facility would be constructed.
Wilcox recalled the string of make-shift, bare-bones shelters – some on as little as a quarter-acre of land – that SCHS has run over the past 20 years, to care for the region’s homeless pets.
“We just kept going forward, knowing how important it was,” she said. “I don’t think we ever gave up.”
The establishment of the Second Chance Thrift Shop in Ridgway over a decade ago proved instrumental to the long-term financial security of the organization and its ability to effectively fulfill its mission, she said. Thrift Shop sales directly benefit the Second Chance animal shelter and its programs.
Another watershed moment came two years ago, when SCHS purchased the lovely 52-acre Angel Ridge Ranch property north of Ridgway, with the intention of constructing purpose-built structures for the shelter in the immediate future.
Now, she said, this dream is being realized.
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