Animal shelter dog

The City of Hernando animal shelter needs to build a new facility, but is lacking the funds to do so, according to officials at the shelter. The shelter is home to dozens of furry friends who have long been outgrowing the space.

While the shelter workers and volunteers try to keep up with day-to-day operations and care, the new facility is at the forefront of their focus. They take to social media to raise awareness and ask for donations. 

“We received about $275,000 from the city a couple of years ago,” Animal shelter director Susan Sanders said. “You can’t do much with that. 

The architectural plans for the new facility, which were donated by Doug Thornton, outline a space for dog kennels, cat rooms, offices and restrooms for workers, and a waiting room. For now, the shelter works out of a garage without walls or restrooms and storage totes piled in each corner. 

In addition to the $275,000 grant from the city, Sanders estimated that another $400,000 would be needed to complete the shelter they have planned. About $100,000 of that has been covered by monetary donations and rummage sales with items donated from the community. 

animal shelter volunteer

Ken James, a longtime volunteer, fosters multiple animals at a time while also caring for animals in his free time at the shelter.

“The community has been super supportive,” Sanders said. “But we’re exhausted.”

Sanders joined the shelter four years ago after working for the Humane Society. Not long before she arrived, the city’s animal shelter wasn’t even a shelter at all. 

“They just had dogs on tie-downs,” Sanders said. “They were chained up in a line.”

While the shelter employs a few workers, most of the care provided is volunteer-based. The shelter volunteers put in long, extra hours to ensure the animals in the shelter get the care they need. 

The volunteers, coupled with donations from community members, have kept the shelter afloat as it operates on a tight budget from the city. 

“They know that we don’t have much to work with,” Sanders said. “Everyone who helps has a giving heart, and we’re just so grateful for each other.”

Sanders estimated that the shelter takes in and rehabilitates about 400 animals each year. 

The demands of the shelter have quickly outgrown the garage, and a lack of funding makes it difficult for the staff to make some much-needed changes.

Dogs have chewed through cage doors, making a perfect home for mice. A lack of storage space means when the food on hand runs out, it’s gone until a volunteer can bring some from home. 

Medications that animals need are kept in a mini-fridge, which sits atop a folding table next to a filing cabinet and a stack of storage totes— what Sanders called the “kitchen-office-storage area.”

The garage-turned-shelter was built in 2010 as a temporary place for the animals to stay, but 10 years later, the shelter remains behind the Hernando fire station. It was originally built as a training space for firefighters, but the shelter has not been able to afford a new space yet. 

The shelter is constantly receiving donations from community members, but Sanders said that those don’t always go to support the new shelter. Each day, the shelter sees new animals that need vet care or medications, so a portion of donations go toward the day-to-day operations of rehabilitating animals. 

“It’s my life mission,” Sanders said. “I feel blessed because I have the opportunity. There’s not much I wouldn’t do.” 

To see animals available for fostering or adoption, follow the City of Hernando Animal Shelter on Facebook. For information on how to donate, contact the shelter at 662-863-7287.

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