Posted on January 6, 2020
After months of preparation, the Union County Animal Protection Society’s Adoption Center will open today, with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. held by the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce.
On Friday, UCAPS volunteers gathered at the Adoption Center to bless it and celebrate its completion. The Adoption Center is located in a 3,000-square-foot home at 727 E. Main Street that has been renovated from the ground up.
“I think it’s great,” said UCAPS shelter employee Sammy McElroy. “The cats enjoy it, too. I love it, I do. I’m really glad it’s here.”
The Adoption Center will work in tandem with the UCAPS shelter, 1000 Sunset Road, which has been plagued by overcrowding. The shelter has a maximum capacity of 300 animals, and while the Adoption Center can’t hold many, UCAPS employees hope that having a facility closer to El Dorado will help increase their animals’ visibility to the public.
“Really, it’s a blessing, because the shelter is so overwhelming to someone who’s not there everyday,” said Tanja Jackson, UCAPS shelter manager. “This gives us an opportunity to give them a chance. It’s a calming environment.”
The shelter will still be open and Union County residents interested in adopting a pet will still be able to go there to do so. However, some of UCAPS’ most adoptable animals will be housed at the Adoption Center. Jackson said she thinks it might be easier for families to introduce children to animals in a more home-like environment, and since the center will also act as a hub for animal-centered education, it’s also an opportunity for members of the community to learn about animals.
“It can be so hard to have kids at the shelter,” said Terra Walker, UCAPS Board president. “Here, we can sit on the floor and learn about what it means to have a pet. It’s such a better experience.”
Cats have already moved into the Adoption Center; three have been adopted already, with two more in the process of adoption. Dogs will move in soon, and Blanca, a spayed Boxer-mix female that will be the first dog to move in, will be at today’s ribbon cutting.
The first educational activity at the Adoption Center will be this month, when UCAPS Board member Mike Means will give a Camp Fire group a tour this Thursday. The Adoption Center will only be open four days a week, while the shelter will fill in those gaps and keep its current hours.
“I hope that we can get a lot more out to the public, information-wise,” Means said. “I hope it can be used as a great public education space.”
In addition to tours, UCAPS volunteers will lead instructional workshops on their trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for the city’s stray cats, where community members can learn about the importance of spaying and neutering animals and animal overpopulation; how to be a responsible pet owner, so children can learn the value of animals’ lives and the importance of treating them kindly and well; and other topics.
There will also be family-fun activities, like Movies with Mutts and game nights, held at the Adoption Center. Those who wish to support UCAPS financially can visit the Adoption Center gift shop, where there are UCAPS-specific items, like T-shirts, as well as knickknacks and household items for animal lovers.
El Dorado and Union County have faced problems with animal overpopulation in recent months, which was the impetus for UCAPS starting their TNR program last year. Last May, the UCAPS shelter had to temporarily halt intake when they were almost 20% over their maximum capacity for nearly a month. Union County recently adopted a voluntary tax that will allow residents to donate money to UCAPS when they pay their annual property taxes, and the City of El Dorado voted last month to partially fund UCAPS’ TNR program this year.
“I think it’s very important since we get calls concerning abandoned pets and them needing a home,” said El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer at Friday’s event. “I know this is very important not just for the people, but for our pets, too.”
Angelica Wurth, a UCAPS volunteer, was one of the primary driving forces behind the Adoption Center. She became emotional Friday as she thanked other volunteers, UCAPS Board members and employees and members of the community for helping her vision come to life.
“I get choked up,” she said. “It’s a dream come true. Seeing how much work had to be done, and seeing the cats are really getting adopted more — it’s very exciting, I’m very relieved. I’m looking forward to 2020.”
While there is a little more work to do to the Adoption Center’s exterior and an indoor play area for the cats housed there — to be called the ‘catio,’ as it is in an indoor sun room — the Adoption Center’s opening is hoped to inspire the community to think more about animals, both their own and the strays they see on the streets.
To learn more about UCAPS or the Adoption Center, visit facebook.com/ucapsadoptioncenter or ucapsshelter.org.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.