published Friday, September 14th, 2012

McKamey animal shelter to get TV makeover

McKamey Animal Center.
McKamey Animal Center.
Photo by Dan Henry.
  • Winston the dog vs. police car
    Watch video from March 14, 2010 of Winston, a dog attacking Chattanooga Police vehicles. Video courtesy of <br /><br />See the original story from March 17th <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>HERE</strong></a>.


People interested in donating money or services can call Executive Director Karen Walsh at 423-305-6508.

The McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center will be getting a makeover thanks to Lifetime's "Designing Spaces."

The show is similar to home makeover programs such as "Extreme Makeover" but focuses on businesses. McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh said producers had a specific type of business in mind for the three-show episode that will be shot in November.

"They wanted to do a shelter, and we are one of three in the country they are featuring," she said.

The shows will air on consecutive Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. beginning Jan. 10, according to Amanda Dugan, publicist for "Designing Spaces."

Associate Producer Jennifer Pennick learned of McKamey after seeing the video of Winston the dog in March 2010. The pit bull mix gained notoriety after video of him chewing up four cars, including flattening a tire and tearing the bumper off Chattanooga police cars, wound up on YouTube.

Winston was captured by McKamey personnel and held at the center before eventually being returned to his family.

"I then became drawn to McKamey due to the size of the organization and the number of animals it takes in," Pennick said.

Walsh said the center, which opened in 2008, has put together a wish list of needs for "Designing Spaces."

"We have some spaces that are not finished and we have some long-term projects to complete," she said.

Dugan said six sponsors have been contracted to date, and Walsh said what gets done depends on the amount of sponsorship dollars and services donated for the project.

One of McKamey's needs is the Saving Spa, a room used primarily for shampooing, shaving and caring for neglected or abused animals.

"Sometimes people dip dogs in motor oil to get rid of fleas or mange," Walsh said. "It's an old wives' tale that doesn't work and every year we get dogs in."

She also said some rooms are drywalled, which is hard to disinfect, and the center would prefer them to be tiled from floor to ceiling. The center's garages also need to be reconfigured to make them more efficient.

And she'd like to make the building more energy-efficient. Utility costs are second only to staffing expenses, and Walsh said the building loses a good deal of cool air each time dogs are allowed outside.

If "Designing Spaces" can fix those issues, money donated to the center during the year "would go toward things like spay and neuter programs instead of utilities," she said.

Walsh said the makeover is an opportunity to improve on an already-good facility.

"Every time a shelter is built, you always end up with things you wish you'd done differently or better and it's hoped this will serve as a model for other shelters on new and creative ways to do things," she said.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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