Oxford officials plan to set aside a few acres of land next to Choccolocco Park for a new adoption center for Cheaha Regional Humane Society.
Nestling the center next to a popular ballpark and near a major retail sector will mean much more exposure compared to the society’s current location near the Calhoun County Landfill. Officials expect the new visibility will result in fewer euthanizations and more “forever homes” for animals in the area.
“We hope to have a very nice facility where people can take the animals out and bond with them,” said Jane Cunningham, president of the society’s board.
Overcrowding is a constant struggle at the Humane Society, officials say. Cunningham has said the group tries to keep 100 or fewer dogs, but the facility often deals with many more. In February, Cheaha Regional put out a plea online seeking foster parents for 40 dogs that were scheduled to be euthanized. Community members and other rescue groups ultimately helped enough to grant the animals a reprieve.
Plans for the adoption center in Oxford came after an anonymous donor pledged a six-figure gift to the society, Cunningham said. But the benefactor specified that the group partner with a city that would provide the land, according to Cunningham.
The center will cost somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000, Cunningham said. With the money from the donor and other fundraising events, she said, the society has more than $300,000 toward that goal.
“It’s coming along now with the city of Oxford where it’s no longer just a dream, it’s becoming a reality,” Cunningham said.
The site planned in Oxford will also offer boarding for animals. That's something officials believe will be in high demand because of visitors to local attractions like the ballpark.
According to Cunningham, the board plans second and third phases at the site. Members hope to build a separate structure that will be rented to a veterinarian, who would also treat the shelter’s animals.
Animal intake operations will remain at the current location for now, Cunningham said. But the board hopes to one day start taking in animals from Oxford and later move all operations to the new site.
Oxford Councilwoman Charlotte Hubbard said Thursday that crews had finished the grading and testing of the soil at the planned site for the center.
Cunningham said the society is now looking for architects with experience in building animal shelters.
Hubbard added that the council also hopes to establish a dog park in the same area as the adoption center. She said she's hoped to have one built in Oxford since taking office six years ago.
“To me it was just a perfect answer to what we needed,” Hubbard said.