Thursday, February 23, 2017

Puppy hugs

This pooch, wagged her tail in support of the adoption wing planned for the new Goochland animal shelter.

Goochland Pet Lovers, an organization recently formed to spearhead fund and “friend” raising for a pet adoption center connected to the new animal shelter, kicked off its Promise Campaign at Reynolds Community College on February 22.

In welcoming remarks, Reynolds’ President, Gary Rhodes said: “With all due respect to the Reynolds family (the college is named after the late J. Sargent Reynolds), I believe that the most important part of our name is community.”

Tom Winfree, GPL chair, thanked local businesses, including Tanglewood Ordinary, Elk Hill Winery, and Down Under Limousine, whose charming trolley bus ferried folks between the college and the animal shelter, for their generous contributions to the event.

A while back, District 4 Supervisor Bob Minnick observed “How we treat our animals is a reflection on us as a community.” The existing 2130 square foot Goochland animal shelter, located just off Fairground Road at the entrance to Hidden Rock Park, which has more than outlived its usefulness, does not reflect well.

As Dr. Lori Elliott, DVM, who works with Goochland animal protection, explained, the current building is too small to serve the county’s abandoned and stray animals. There is barely room for the staff to provide basic services and no space for volunteers to help ready pets for adoption. Lack of quarantine facilities puts all resident animals at risk of infection, which can close the shelter to additional new arrivals. It is also in violation of standards set by the Commonwealth and risks fines and other penalties.

Four years ago, recalled Elliott, she and others concerned about the state of the shelter met with the late Becky Dickson, then county administrator. That led to the concept of a public/private partnership to build an exceptional facility that would serve Goochland animals for at least thirty years, and the birth of GPL. Its logo features a dog and cat in front of a lotus, the symbol of rebirth and respect; a blue foreground represents the James River.

Becky was mentioned often as the driving force behind the new shelter and the GPL adoption wing. Her husband Dennis Proffitt gave Winfree a $10,000 donation that Becky left to GPL. Her sister Deborah Starns also donated $5,000.

Funds to build a new, 12,900 square foot animal shelter have been set aside in Goochland capital improvement plan for several years. Construction plans are being finalized and the facility is expected to go to bid in the next few months. The new facility will continue the zero tolerance for ending the lives of salvageable animals in Goochland. It will have space to provide remedial and preventive health care on site for animals.

The adoption wing planned by GPL will provide welcoming spaces to facilitate adoption of abandoned animals into forever homes and room for volunteers. The Promise Campaign hopes to raise $1.5 million; GPL is a 501 c (3) organization.

John Budesky, Goochland County Administrator said that because the new shelter, near the entrance to Hidden Rock Park off Fairground Road, is in the Courthouse Village overlay district, it must meet strict design standards. The attractive single story brick building will be carefully landscaped and serve as gateway to Courthouse Village.

Richard Verlander, who chairs the Promise Campaign with wife Kathy, compared the community working together to build an adoption center to baseball as an activity where people from different backgrounds pull together for the same outcome, which “is badly need in our troubled world. Animals bring out the best in us and put a smile on our face.”

Kathy said that their dogs bring normality to crazy lives and keep them grounded.
Over the past few years, the Verlanders have spent a great deal of time volunteering at the animal shelter, helping to prepare strays for their forever homes and looking for ways to make the shelter better.

Wayne Dementi, GPL President, said that the Promise Campaign is well on its way, having received $566,500 as of February 15, The Becky Dickson Memorial Fund, which is still growing, has reached $27,500. For the Love of Animals in Goochland (FLAG), which rescued thousands of animals and closed at the end of 2016, has given $200,000 to GPL.

Please visit for complete information.

Lots of events are planned to help GPL meet its fundraising goal and there will be more that promise a good time for a great cause.

Don’t be surprised to learn “Poochland” is the “Purrfect” place to live. Do what you can to support this worthy effort, because we can all use a puppy hug now and then.

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