Shelter officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning on an expansion to the shelter — a 12-foot-by-12-foot room that will house a dog washing station, grooming space and another washing machine and dryer.
And it’s all thanks to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Bristol, Tennessee.
“Lowe’s has a Heroes project where we assist the community with needs, and the Sullivan County shelter has a need for another dog washing area,” said Frank DelPrete, store manager of Lowe’s in Bristol.
THE HEROES PROGRAM
All Lowe’s employees are invited to volunteer through the company’s Heroes program, which are large, company-organized volunteer projects with local, nonprofit partners. Annually, Lowe’s allocates funding to each store to donate to these partners and organize a Lowe’s Heroes event.
In 2018, all North American stores completed at least one Heroes project. Company-wide, Lowe’s donated more than $46 million and 315,000 volunteer hours to its communities.
DelPrete explained that under the Lowe’s Heroes program, the Bristol store plans to donate $5,000 to $6,000 worth of materials to build the addition and the equipment to be used within. The concrete for the foundation was donated by BP&G Materials of Bluff City and all of the volunteer labor is being provided by Lowe’s employees, DelPrete said.
The concrete was poured on Monday, and the addition should be built within the next 30 to 45 days.
The Sullivan County Animal Shelter already has a dog washing station, washing machine and dryer, but it’s all located within the quarantine area of the facility. While this works fine with the shelter employees, the situation is not so good when it comes to volunteers.
“With it being in the quarantine area ... we want to make sure that everyone who goes back there is quarantine trained,” explained Cindy Holmes, the director of the Sullivan County Animal Shelter. “We have heightened measures back there and the volunteers don’t know those procedures.”
When dogs and cats come into the shelter, they’re placed in the holding area so as to not compromise the rest of the animals in the facility. Employees know not to touch one animal, then turn around and touch another. Quite a bit of hand washing takes place in between as well.
“When you think about cross-contamination from one animal to the next, the human factor is one of the biggest factors of those spreads,” Holmes said. “When parvo spreads from one animal to the others, it’s generally the human factor is mitigating that.”
For a volunteer to work in the quarantine area, it takes training, Holmes said, noting the goal is for these folks not to be a vector for the spread of viruses and diseases. With this new addition, volunteers can enter from the outdoors and help with laundry, grooming and washing without ever having to enter the quarantined area of the shelter.
“We do (laundry) all day long, every day ... so it weighs heavily on the staff to make sure the laundry gets done and the dogs get washed,” Holmes said. “So this was a huge need for us to open this up for our volunteers. It may sound like a small thing, but it’s huge for the animal shelter.”