June 1, 2006 – Dogs are barking, kitties are singing, and the rest of the island's animal world is rejoicing because they will soon have a spacious and elegant new home when they are in need.
After five years, the Humane Society of St. Thomas is celebrating the long-awaited groundbreaking for its Animal Care Campus on Sunday. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. at the site along the Weymouth Rhymer Highway, directly across from Market Square East.
Society president Joe Aubain was all smiles Thursday. "Actually, I'm ecstatic," he said. "The very first conversations about the undertaking were around six years ago. Reflecting back on the number of challenges along the way, getting to this point is totally unbelievable."
The ceremony will feature walking tours of the animals' future home conducted by Humane Society board members, Aubain said. The shelter will sit on 4.7 acres donated to the society by the Lockhart family.
"Thanks to the total contribution of $1 million by Randy Knight," Aubain said, "and the efforts of everyone associated with the society, we are now able to begin the initial phases of our new shelter."
Aubain said actual construction should start in the next three to four weeks. He said he, Knight and architect Joe Hylton are working on contract bids now.
Businessman and philanthropist Knight kicked off the capital campaign to raise money to build the new "campus" at the Society's annual "Doggie Ball" in 2003. (See "Vision for New Animal Care Campus Revealed").
The new shelter will include cutting-edge sound and odor-contained kennels, where each dog will have complete privacy; dog play areas; a real cat house complete with window sills; dog runs; and a dog-walking path where members can bring their canines and walk them on leashes.
Plans also include a state-of-the art administration building with separate entrances for different functions. It will also house the on-campus animal treatment center that will employ a full-time animal care professional.
Aubain said the society will hold a "Bow Meow Brunch" at 11 a.m. at Coral World following the groundbreaking ceremony . Besides the deluxe breakfast menu, the brunch will be an opportunity to learn more about the campus and the programs planned for it.
There will be a silent auction of "furry friends" — that is to say, stuffed animals — and "other surprises," Aubain said.
Tickets are $60 per person and are available at the Humane Society in Nadir or at the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce offices on Main Street. Admission to Coral World is included in the ticket price.
For further information, contact the Humane Society at 775-0599.
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