By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society unveiled the site of its future home Friday morning near the corner of Cliff Gookin Boulevard and Thomas Street.
Cradling an assortment of bandana-clad puppies, animal shelter officials held a brief news conference where they announced the donation of the nearly two-acre site.
It was donated by Big Oaks Farm.
“We are humbled and appreciative of the very generous gift,” said Jennie Bradford Curlee, president of the humane society’s board of directors. “We now have a new home.”
No date was provided for the construction of a new facility on the site, which sits just east of the BP gas station on the south side of Cliff Gookin. Shelter officials still need to hire an architect and raise additional funds.
They currently have $400,000 set aside for the project with a goal of at least $100,000 more. But Curlee said they won’t know the final price until after completing the facility’s design phase.
The nonprofit TLHS wants a state-of-the art facility to replace its cramped, aging shelter on South Gloster Street. The current building can hold only about 150 animals – a fraction of the hundreds of cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds and other animals dropped off there each month.
Despite numerous improvements, it continues to suffer frequent mechanical breakdowns from outdated equipment.
“A new shelter will provide a healthier environment and a more modern way of keeping the animals,” Executive Director Debbie Hood said. “It will be an adoption center instead of just a pound.”
Big Oaks Farm President Perry Thomas said he and his family were happy to make the donation, which they gave in honor of D.D. Ruff Nicolaus. An avid animal lover, Nicolaus was seriously injured in a March horse-riding accident.
“This is a convenient place that’s easy to find,” Thomas said. “And knowing they have the land takes a big burden off of them.”
The animal shelter has been trying for years to build a new facility. It had previously received donated land off Carnation Street from the Hancock family, but it would have cost too much to develop the site, Hood said. The new location better fits its needs and budget, she said.
“I can’t believe this day has finally arrived,” shelter board member Betsy Brown said. “This is so badly needed.”
Support the Shelter
WHAT: Art For Animals fundraiser
WHEN: 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15
WHERE: GumTree Museum of Art in Tupelo
COST: $20, includes heavy hors d’oeuvres
DETAILS: Sip cocktails at a cash bar and bid on silent auction items donated by businesses, as well as original artwork by local artists. All proceeds benefit the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society in its efforts to build a new shelter.
INFO: Call the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society for tickets at (662) 841-6500.