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FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2007
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Animal shelter begins Pets & Pals $200,000 campaign

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Decatur pet lovers have begun a new campaign to reverse the negative image of the city's animal shelter and equip residents with the tools to be better pet owners.

At a kickoff dinner Thursday night at Decatur Country Club, the Animal Shelter board announced a two-year Pets & Pals campaign to raise $200,000 to meet several goals:

  • Expand education and outreach programs at the shelter.

  • Reduce the number of animals turned in to the shelter and increase the adoptability of animals received by teaching the public how to raise people-friendly pets.

  • Decrease the number of unwanted pets with greater education on spaying/neutering programs.

  • Establish a coordinator position to recruit and retain volunteers.

  • Expand and develop partnerships with community agencies, such as the school system, scouts and animal rescue groups.

    Dr. Michael Newman, a Decatur veterinarian who serves on the board, said the shelter must change its image as a place that only houses unwanted pets waiting to be executed.

    The city is going in the right direction by moving the shelter to highly visible Wilson Morgan Park, he said. It will take over the building formerly occupied by the Center for the Developmentally Disabled.

    That will give the shelter better visibility and better access to the public.

  • Newman said the $200,000 raised in the campaign, however, won't go toward any mortar or bricks for the building, but strictly toward education programs to make Decatur a pet-friendly city.

    "It's important for us to think about that, how it affects our image ... and our quality of life," he said.

    During the next two years, Newman said, he would address civic groups and industries to partner in the fundraiser.

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