Negaunee, MI – At its sold-out annual fundraising gala, Cause for Paws, the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter announced the public kick-off for Imagine the PAWSibilites: Campaign for an Animal Community Center. The announcement included a challenge to the community with a $100,000 match gift from Mark and Chris Troudt through their donor advised fund at the Community Foundation of Marquette County. From October 22 through December 31 every dollar given to the Campaign for an Animal Community Center will be matched.

UPAWS Board and Capital Campaign Committee Chair, Amber Wetton, stated, “It is so exciting to kick off the public phase of our Campaign for a new Animal Community Center with this challenge.  We are so grateful to Mark and Chris Troudt for initiating a challenge to our community to match their generous gift. The Troudt’s support is essential to achieving our shared aspirations for the future of our animals, shelter, and the community we serve. Mark and Chris Troudt are great friends to UPAWS, and we are so thankful for their generous gift and ongoing support. This gift means so much to us and the animals it will benefit at our new Animal Community Center for many years to come.”  The Troudts echoed their excitement for the project.  “We are thrilled at the opportunity to help move this project forward.  We have always had a passion for homeless animals and we have developed a deep love for the Marquette community.  This much needed ‘state of the art’ facility will benefit the community and homeless pets for many years!”

The current UPAWS facility was built in 1978 and expanded in 1988. Animal intake and services at UPAWS has grown dramatically since its inception 40 years ago, but not the shelter space. Today, nearly 1,500 animals come through UPAWS open-admission, no kill shelter each year. The shelter is a busy place providing animals and pet owners with critical pet services. UPAWS performs the crucial role of finding homes for homeless animals, as well as reuniting lost pets with their families, and is a leader in the no-kill movement by consistently reaching an award-winning 98% Save Rate.

Beyond the small building size, many other issues compound the problem of providing a healthy and comfortable space for homeless animals, staff, and volunteers. Building issues include: poor ventilation, power shortages, low water pressure, uneven heat distribution, mold, leaking roof, and close, small quarters creating high stress levels for animals, all of which generates a tougher adoption environment. Caring staff and volunteers at UPAWS have succeeded in making the best effort to run the shelter effectively and efficiently, but the building still lacks in meeting the basic needs for both animals and the community. The Animal Community Center will provide better comfort and care for our animal companions, as well as community space and expanded services.

UPAWS has selected and purchased 20 acres of land in Sands Township, next to the county fairgrounds. The new facility quadruples the current space and addresses ventilation issues. The design is one of efficiency and comes from many months of working with pet shelter design firms and discussion on both shelter and local community needs. The configuration of kennels reduces stress and outside exercise and play areas offer an area for dogs to play be walked safely. Cat spaces are designed to allow cats to have a home-like environment for those who are sociable and spaces that feel safe, secure, and quiet for those recovering from illness and/or abuse. A fully enclosed outdoor area (‘Catio’) presents cats the opportunity to be outside. Small critters will have their own corner away from other animals and activity and no longer live in the lobby or lunch room. The shelter will also include a functional pole barn to allow for cases of large or farm animal abuse.

The Animal Community Center gives space to efficiently serve animals and the public and new services will help fulfill the mission of UPAWS. A multi-purpose community center provides space for education on the responsibility of pet ownership, youth programs, dog training, community meetings, and more. Education events will include ‘Read to your Shelter Pet’ programs or ‘What makes a dog bite?’ awareness among others.   UPAWS will work with civic clubs to develop opportunities for expanded volunteering in adoption counseling, canine playgroups, cat socializing, and more. The facility will also be home to the area’s only year-round, fenced in, off-leash dog park for dog lovers to come together.

The Imagine the PAWSibilities Campaign to raise $3.7 million is underway. As of October 21,  half of the funds dedicated to the Animal Community Center are in place, but we have a long way to go. Construction will depend on reaching 80% of the fundraising goal, with an expected groundbreaking in 2017. As animal shelters are held to higher standards, as well as serving more diverse needs, it takes a cooperative spirit to fulfill the goal of a new facility that serves our animal companion needs and the community as a whole.  To learn more about the Animal Community Center, or to make a donation, visit www.upaws.org, email campaign@upaws.org, or call (906) 475-6661.

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UPAWS services work towards the mission and vision of humane treatment of animals, reducing pet overpopulation, and contributing to a community where there are no abandoned, homeless, or abused animals, and where everyone understands and practices the level of commitment and responsibility that pet guardianship entails.

Established in 1988, Community Foundation of Marquette County is a local nonprofit that helps people invest in the future of Marquette County. Their gifts do good works within the community, forever. For more information visit www.marquettecountycommunityfoundation.org.