Editorial: Sullivan County should rejoin PETWORKS

Editorial Board • Nov 13, 2019 at 6:30 PM

It was a historic moment when PETWORKS – Kingsport Animal Services brought to fruition many years of effort in breaking ground for an adoption center and dog park to rival anything in the region. It will be a 17,000-square-foot facility on three and a half acres along East Stone Drive, just east of Cleek Road.

About this time next year, the new center should be open for business in a building designed for expansion if Sullivan County chooses to rejoin the organization. And that’s exactly what the county should do, regardless of whether it continues to operate its shelter at Blountville.

The Kingsport shelter will be home to animals delivered by anyone, not just city residents, and will provide pets in need of a home to anyone who wants one. Every resident of Kingsport is also a resident of Sullivan County, and they deserve the county’s support in a facility that will end decades of inadequate support for cats and dogs.

Pivotal to this campaign has been Tom Parham, who has given years of service to Kingsport not just as an alderman and vice mayor, but as a man who has worked for decades on behalf of our animal friends. He is the guiding force behind this effort, and when the new shelter opens, the PETWORKS president should be given the recognition he deserves.

“This is a great and special day. It’s been eight years coming and took a lot of work and resources,” said Parham at the groundbreaking. “It’ll be a safe, clean space for animals while they wait to be adopted, and it’s been made real by the contributions of time, resources and love from you.”

The move for a new, state-of-the-art animal shelter began more than eight years ago when the mayors of Sullivan County and its municipalities asked the state to recommend how to do a better job for the stray and abandoned cats and dogs in our community. The existing facilities in Kingsport and Blountville were found to be woefully inadequate and in need of significant repair. To help solve the problem, the state study recommended Kingsport and Sullivan County consolidate and build one shelter to serve them all.

Once complete, the new facility — dubbed “The Good Steward Adoption Center” — will include room for 180 animals, isolation rooms for both dogs and cats, dedicated adoption spaces, an educational area for animal care and training, larger workspaces for employees, and the dog park on the rear of the property.

“I have a real, strong personal connection to PETWORKS, over the years adopting two shelter animals,” said Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull. “It took a real team effort to get this going, and I still have hopes that someday Sullivan County will come in together with us on this.”

PETWORKS has raised more than $2 million toward its $3.5 million goal. As part of the groundbreaking, PETWORKS launched a community fundraising campaign to bring in the remaining $1 million to complete the $3.5 million project.

“This state-of-the-art facility addresses the significant challenges facing an existing 30-year-old facility and helps PETWORKS maintain its no-kill goal,” said Jim Harlan, with the Kingsport Community Foundation. “With the building of this new facility, they’re going to maintain that vision for the future.”

You can help by donation with cash, check, credit card, gifts of stock and more by contacting PETWORKS at P.O .Box 7545, Kingsport, TN 37664, or calling Parham at (423) 360-8092.

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