Samantha Anderson is looking forward to having a little more elbow room.
And when the new facility for the Williamson County Animal Center has its expected opening in January, she’ll get that and more.
Anderson is the new coordinator for Community Education programming for the WCAC, a position that was recently created out of necessity as the center will become much more engaged with the community once the doors to the new 33,000-square-foot building on Old Charlotte Pike open.
“It’s exciting,” said Anderson, who has been on staff at the shelter for six years and the last 2½ as coordinator of the Community Cat program. “Basically, with the new space we have for community education, the possibilities are endless.”
While the current facility has served well enough to make the WCAC one of the leading animal shelters in the state, its possibilities have been limited. The current building, located near Franklin High School, is short not only on space but also on some of the amenities and resources necessary for the growing population of Williamson County.
Construction on the new facility got underway in October last year, and while there are still loose ends to tie up for final completion, the building is scheduled to open to the public sometime in January.
It can’t come soon enough for Ondrea Johnson, director of the Animal Center for the past four years.
“The little details that are left to be finished are important details,” Johnson said as she pointed out some of the highlights of the building and explained how various expansions will benefit WCAC staff, volunteers and visitors alike. “I want it to be what we need.
“I love to partner with the community, other agencies, nonprofits and government agencies,” she added. “I’m a big believer in collaboration.
“So I’m most excited about having the ability to do that here. I’m also really committed in my tenure as director that we change our policies from being reactive to the public to being proactive with the public. We want to be able to create programming where we get the community here even if they’re not looking to add a pet. We want them to think of us as a partner in all those ways.”
Anderson’s new job duties illustrate that approach. For instance, she and staff are working with the Williamson County Public Library and the county’s Parks and Recreation for ideas on providing classes, summer camps and other forms of outreach.
“Our goals are to make our new animal center is a place for the community to see us as a resource for whatever they need,” Anderson said.
In addition to offering more space and resources for increased interaction with the community, the new center will be beneficial for the medical and surgical team, adoption services and impounding, among other areas.
Johnson diligently worked with Shelter Planners of America, a specialty architecture firm, for a balance of maximum efficiency for space, maximum function for staff and the best overall experience for the animals.
“They have built hundreds of shelters across the country,” she said. “They came in and did a community assessment and a needs assessment. They wrote a 64-page document about projected growth, current census and other factors. They recommended only doing a 20 percent increase in housing space but increasing programming. So we were able to add staff.”
Features of the new center include:
- Surgery center/medical wing: 3,000 square feet (with 12 dog-, 32 cat-holding kennels)
- Education/multipurpose hall: 1,300 square feet/100 seats
- Indoor dog training area: 1,200 square feet
- Dog/puppy kennel capacity: 86 (adoption 46, impound 26, medical 14)
- Cat/kitten kennel capacity: 100 (adoption 40, impound 28, medical 32)
- Outdoor walking trail
- Public dog park component