McKamey Animal Center plans to build a new community education center as part of an expansion of the North Access Road facility. / Rendering by Franklin Architects


The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Aug. 12 is expected to take up the donation of about 15 acres in city property to McKamey Animal Center.

McKamey Animal Center is planning an expansion that would increase its footprint by nearly half to make room for a new wing for a community education center and more space for the animals.

Jamie McAloon, the center's executive director, said the $1.5 to $2 million expansion would create added working space at the 4500 North Access Road site.

"It would help our ability to train and work with them and to do things for the animals who are with us long term," she said, noting that the center is planning a capital fund-raising campaign.

At the same time, the city is looking to declare surplus a 15-acre tract, part of which the center now sits on, and then donate the entire parcel to McKamey, according to a filing with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

McAloon said the center owns its building and already sits on about nine acres of the site, though part of the parcel isn't useable because it's low-lying. The rest of the land would give the center more green space, the executive director said.

She said plans are to roll out the expansion in two phases, building 8,000 square feet in the first and then adding another 4,000 square feet. The existing center has about 30,000 square feet.

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Canine caretaker Makayla Locke leads Apollo from his kennel to be triaged at McKamey Animal Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"We're simply out of space," McAloon said. "We're excited."

About a decade ago when the center started up, it had 38 people. Today the staff has increased to 70, she said.

"We've grown considerably," McAloon said. The center now has a small education room, she said.

Some 6,900 animals are brought into the center every year, according to the facility.

The center is named after Bob McKamey, a longtime auto dealer and philanthropist who died in January. McKamey, who was 83, was the owner of Capital Toyota in Chattanooga.

According to news archives, the city transferred its animal control services to the McKamey Center when that shelter opened while Ron Littlefield was mayor. He implemented a plan first developed by former mayor Jon Kinsey's administration and further developed under former mayor Bob Corker.

Starting on Monday, the McKamey Center will start selling pet licenses for Red Bank and Lakesite.

Late last year, Hamilton County agreed to commit $10 million for a new Humane Educational Society animal shelter. The goal for that shelter is to open in 2o21. That new shelter will be built on 6.8 acres in the area of Amnicola Highway and Highway 153 and replace a 118-year-old building on Highland Park Avenue. The estimated cost is $13 million.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.