After 120 years operating out of a former orphanage in Orchard Knob, the Humane Educational Society is finally moving into a new facility that is specially designed for animals.
Throughout this week the organization is moving in phases into the $13 million facility on 6.8 acres near Amnicola Highway and Highway 153.
Named for donors John and Trish Foy, the 32,000-square-foot Foy Animal Shelter is set to open to the public Monday, Jan. 18.
"I think for the public the main change will be that it's such a bright and pleasant place for people and animals," said Rebecca Bryan, interim director of the Humane Educational Society. "Our old shelter is just completely falling apart."
The former facility was wrought with issues including a leaky roof, crumbling kennel walls and constant air conditioning problems, among many others, Bryan said.
"I don't know that anyone can really remember a time when the building was not dilapidated," said Tai Federico, chairman and longtime member of the society's board of directors.
He said the old building was drafty, and germs spread easily because surfaces were difficult to clean and ventilation was poor.
"I think that having the new facility will certainly put us in a position of being able to take better care of the animals," Federico said.
Construction began in November 2019 on the new shelter, which can accommodate 108 dogs and 180 cats. That's 20% fewer animals than the old building, but the quality of the enclosures is much higher, Bryan said.
She said the hope is that the pleasant surroundings will lead to more people visiting the shelter and adopting animals.
"I'm most excited that we have a nice place for the animals to live and a great facility for the public to visit," Bryan said. "I feel like that'll help us a lot with the animals' quality of life and the quality of the experience people have when they come to the shelter."
The Humane Educational Society provides animal services to unincorporated Hamilton County and most of the county's small municipalities. McKamey Animal Shelter serves the county's other small municipalities and the city of Chattanooga.
The Hamilton County Commission approved $10 million in funding for the facility in late 2018, and the other $3 million came from private donors.
The Humane Educational Society’s new facility is at 4155 Randolph Circle and can be reached at 423-624-5302. To find out more or to make a donation, visit the organization’s website at heschatt.org.
"The actual construction of the building and most of the equipment is already paid for, thanks to community support from donors and the county," Bryan said.
Supporters can still contribute to the facility's building fund, which is separate from its operating fund, through an ongoing campaign in which contributors can make a donation to name a room or kennel.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is always in need of donations for animal care and other services the shelter provides, she added.
"The Humane Educational Society has been dedicated to saving lives and nurturing the bond between people and their pets since 1910, and we hope to carry that lifesaving legacy through to the future," Bryan said. "We're grateful to all the community members for their support and making this happen."
Although the shelter is closed to the public this week, it will still accept urgent appointments and dispatch animal protection services until it opens for regular appointments starting Jan. 18.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508. Follow her on Twitter @emcrisman.