PETworks (formerly known as the Sullivan County/Bluff City/Kingsport Animal Center) currently operates shelters in Kingsport and Blountville and for years officials have planned to build a consolidated and more modern shelter between the two towns given that two state agencies found the existing shelters “woefully inadequate” and in need of “extensive repair.”
Kingsport Alderman Tom Parham, who chairs the PETworks board, said the organization finalized the property purchases last week. The new pet adoption center will be located on a 3.5-acre site along East Stone Drive/Highway 11-W just east of Cleek Road — between Clayton Homes and Kingsport Used Tires.
“It had been grown up, so we cleared it off, graded it and did that before we put up the sign,” Parham said. “Now, it's attractive, inviting and identifies how people can start donating, which they already have.”
The new facility will be roughly 18,500 square feet and allow for a 40 to 50 percent increase in capacity as compared to the two existing shelters. Parham said it will be able to accommodate more than 200 dogs and a like number of cats, with animal intake at one end of the building and pet adoptions at the other end.
“It’s cleaner and more customer friendly, all of the animals will come in at one end, be evaluated and given shots and then if we have any questions we’ll have a quarantine space for each species, with separate AC systems,” Parham said. “The beauty of this thing is having an attractive, clean and friendly place makes a huge difference with the adoption rate.”
When Johnson City and Washington County built a joint facility in recent years, Parham said they saw a 40 percent increase in pet adoptions.
The new facility will sit on three separate parcels. Kingsport purchased one years ago as a possible location for a new fire station. It’s valued at $88,000. Sullivan County recently agreed to pitch in $75,000 to purchase a second lot, while the third lot is being paid for with funds from Bristol, Tenn. ($30,000), Bluff City ($1,000), PETworks reserves ($14,000) and other contributions ($30,000).
The $288,000 total for site acquisition includes $50,000 for site evaluation funded by One Kingsport money.
Now that everyone has “skin in the game” for the new facility, Parham said it’s time to move forward with engineering and start the fundraising campaign, most likely by the first of May. PETworks has government commitments of $2 million and will need to raise $1.5 million to fully fund the project.
“That’s a very comfortable target,” Parham said. “so many people have an interest and coming to us asking to help raise funds. We’ve already applied for some foundations and one came to us and asked us to submit an application.”