Editorial: Time has come for Humane Society’s new site

Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

Sevier County’s Humane Society has been in need of a new facility for years, and now it appears they may just get one.

The society announced Saturday at the Fur Ball Gala in Sevierville that they’ve entered a contract on property close to The Mountain Press and should close on the land for the new facility by the end of the year.

It’s welcome news.

The society’s current main shelter, built in 1974, is located on Gnatty Branch Road off the Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The group does both animal intakes and adoptions at the location, which sees between 4,500 and 5,000 lost, abandoned, surrendered or homeless pets per year.

A larger, newer facility has been needed for some time.

“When it was built originally it was designed to receive around a thousand a year,” Humane Society Executive Director Jayne Vaughn said. “We’ve so outgrown this facility. And while its served well over 100,000 animals in its 40 years of service it simply can’t serve our needs anymore.”

Now, with the new contract in place, and visions of a 12,000-square-foot facility in the future, things are looking up for the county’s homeless animals.

“We are very excited about this property but we still have a long way to go to raise the funds we need to build a new animal center,” Sally Worden, the Humane Society’s president, said. “We are counting on the community to help us in this venture. We have been meeting with city and county officials and have had favorable response from them. While nothing has been finalized at this time, we are very hopeful that they will help support this undertaking.”

The non-profit organization is governed by a board of directors and employs an executive director and a dedicated staff — paid for primarily by donations and community support.

“(Saturday’s) Fur Ball is an event hosted by lots of humane groups around the country, typically designed to raise capital funds for new facilities,” Vaughn said. “Ours also is an effort to raise support for our Animal Center fund, but also to share and celebrate some very exciting news about a parcel of land that we have found, and entered into contract to purchase.”

The property, close to Old Newport Highway and Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville should be a good centralized spot for most of the county and can hopefully result in more adoptions of animals in need of rescue.

“It’s an ideal setting for us,” Vaughn said. “And we’re so excited. Our vision is one of an animal center, where people and animals and can come together. A happy place.”