New animal shelter to open in Ahwahnee

MADERA COUNTY. (KFSN) -- It's been a long time coming but the Eastern Madera County SPCA has finally raised enough money to open up its own facility.

The center will call a spot right along Highway 49 home and volunteers say it's going to do a lot of good for homeless pets in this community.

Kathy Shock and Lyle Swanson are getting ready to break ground in Ahwahnee, "It's finally becoming a reality and we're very excited," Shock said.

The close to $2 million shelter has been in the making for more than 25 years. Sharon Fitzgerald, President of the Eastern Madera County SPCA, says that money has been what's held them back.

"The community has needed this for a long, long time," Fitzgerald said.

The closest shelter is 40 miles away and, right now, pets through SPCA are fostered by volunteers at their homes. "If someone loses an animal they often don't have the means to go to Madera," Fitzgerald explained.

The new 8,000 square-foot facility will sit right across from Wasuma Elementary School and will house between 40 and 60 cats and up to 40 dogs. There will also be a dog park for people in the neighborhood to use and a low-cost spay and neuter clinic on site.

"That's what drives us," Fitzgerald said. "I mean we all want to see the best done for the animals."

And volunteers say though they have raised more than $1 million to build it, they will still need financial support from the community to keep this shelter alive once it's up and running. "Animals being lost roaming the street is a safety issue as well so this is a huge benefit to the community," Fitzgerald said.

And the volunteers say, rain or shine, the groundbreaking for this project will take place Saturday at 12:30 p.m., they also say they expect the construction to begin in April and the entire project can take up to 18 months to complete.
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