ST. GEORGE – City officials, animal rescue advocates and the public gathered at the St. George Animal Shelter Saturday to celebrate the facility’s grand reopening and open house.
“Hopefully you’ll have a positive experience while you’re here,” said St. George Police Sgt. Ivor Fuller, the shelter manager, to the gathered crowd. Fuller took over management of the animal shelter a year ago and has played a part in the many changes made to the shelter and its policies.
Changes made to the shelter and Fuller becoming its manager came in the wake of allegations of animal neglect. The city launched an investigation and concluded changes were definitely needed.
“They’re wonderful,” said Lynn Burger, of the P.A.W.S. animal rescue group, in reference to the improvements made at the shelter. Burger is also a member of the St. George Animal Shelter Review Board and was originally one the people who made city officials aware of previous concerns about the shelter.
Changes to the animal shelter include new facilities for dogs and cats, such as outdoor play areas, and better bedding. Adoption fees have also been reduced, and the city has officially adopted a “no-kill” policy for the shelter. These are just some examples of changes that have been made to the shelter, and more are on the way, Fuller said.
“The changes don’t stop here,” he said, adding that changes will continue that benefit the animals and the community.
Burger said the adoption of the no-kill policy has helped take stress off of rescue groups that used to have to race into the shelter to save animals that were scheduled for euthanasia.
Due to partnerships established between the shelter and rescue groups, Fuller said organizations like P.A.W.S. will take animals that have had long-term stays at the shelter and help find them homes.
Fuller, Burger, St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton and St. George Mayor Jon Pike each said the animals currently at the shelter appear happier and stress-free thanks to the changes implemented at the facility.
“A happy animal in a shelter is more likely to be adopted than an unhappy animal,” Burger said.
“I think we all agree, those animals are happy,” Stratton said.
Adoptions at the shelter have increased, Fuller said, and he credited the publicity the shelter has received for nearly a year now as a factor in helping get the word out.
St. George City Councilman Jimmie Hughes, who currently chairs the shelter’s review board, also shared a few words at the event. He said the people involved in the animal rescue groups were not “rabid animal rights activists,” as some in the community may mistakenly believe. They are very reasonable and very helpful, he said.
Hughes also announced that a donation fund called the “Friends of Animals Washington County” has been established to help finance projects related to animal shelters and animal rescue countywide. An anonymous donor has already placed $50,000 in the fund, he said.
“Without donations, some of these things aren’t possible,” Hughes said, referring to the shelter remodel.
Anyone who wants to donate to the fund can contact St. George City attorney Shawn Guzman for details, Pike said.
Originally, as part of the grand reopening, adoption fees at the animal shelter were planned to be half-off during the event. The mayor tossed that idea aside and declared the adoption fees waived entirely for the day.
People attending the event were also allowed to tour the facility and see firsthand the changes that have been made to the shelter thus far.
For additional details related to changes made to the St. George Animal Shelter, see the story published by St. George News earlier this week.
As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the animal shelter reported via Facebook that five dogs and nine cats were adopted.
The St. George Animal Shelter is located at 605 Waterworks Road and is typically open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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