In search of a solution

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 07:39 PM

The need for a new animal shelter in Vance County has become a top priority since the 35-year-old property was recently forced to improve conditions after a complaint from the Humane Society.

Currently, county commissioners are looking at a donated 5-acre plot of land on Brodie Road in Henderson, but that is not their only option.

Rudy Abate, former chair of the Vance County Animal Advisory Board and owner of Liberty Kennels, Inc. on Walter Bowen Road, says he’s interested in selling his property to the county.

“I had offered them to purchase the kennel for $850,000,” Abate said. “I wanted a deposit of $250,000, and the rest would be on loan.”

Abate’s offer also entailed a $250 monthly donation to various organizations in Vance County.

“As long as I carried the loan I would donate $250 monthly to a Vance County organization,” Abate said. “Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, ACTS, anything to give money back to the community since I would be making money on the interest of the loan.”

Liberty Kennels, Inc. is between 7,500 to 8,000 square feet, and was built by Abate approximately five years ago.

“I was capable of building because I was a contractor in New York,” Abate said.

A total of 50 kennels are split between two wings, both with zone heating systems, and high density insulation.

Presently at the Vance County Animal shelter there are 19 indoor kennels and 15 puppy cages, with the only source of heat coming from the shelter’s office.

“All the block walls I had sprayed in Styrofoam insulation,” Abate said. “It helps hold the insulation a lot better.

“Our electric bill probably runs us $150 to heat the whole building. So, the running cost, I don’t think it’s going to be as high.”

While county commissioners have cited distant location and previously acquired land by donation land as two reasons for not moving forward with Abate’s offer, board chairman Tommy Hester said the county has not ruled out a deal with Liberty Kennels.

“We never close the door on anything,” Hester said. “We’ve already accepted five acres of land closer in to Henderson from Charles Boyd on Broadie Road. It’s moving forward.

“Obviously the land has been accepted, and now the situation is looking at plans, where to go with plans.”

Liberty Kennels Inc. is located in county commissioner Gordon Wilder’s district. He feels location is an issue.

“To my knowledge we’re not considering it at this time,” Wilder said. “It’s in my district, but the location is a little distant. It’s on one end of the county so to speak.

“There’s some pluses and minuses to it.”

In a previous interview with The Dispatch, County Manager Jerry Ayscue said “our eyes have been bigger than our pocketbooks” in reference to a proposed 13,000 square-foot, $1.2 million shelter.

The project is being scaled back, and the county is expected to look at fundraising campaigns to draw financial support from the community.

Abate estimates his property would cost around $1.2 to $1.5 million if built through a contractor.

“I haven’t actually had a formal price for what it would cost to build this,” Abate said. “I know if you had to hire a contractor it would probably run between one and a quarter to one and a half million to build this facility.”

During Wednesday’s annual county commissioner retreat, animal shelter planning is among select items on the agenda for discussion.

Whether Abate’s property will be mentioned as a possible new shelter location is unknown.

“I feel if they were interested they would contact me and say, ‘Rudy, is the offer still on the table?,’” Abate said.

“We’ve been talking about advertising nationally for two or three months, and are looking into specialty dog magazines.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.