Anonymous benefactor pushes fundraising campaign ahead of schedule on $5 million center
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A large benefactor has put a $5 million new animal shelter in Fort Madison back on track.
According to Brad Walker, president of the the P.A.W. Animal Shelter, construction of the new animal shelter will begin this summer.
Fundraising for the new shelter project suffered during the pandemic but an anonymous donation has put the project actually in front of fundraising goals.
Although the total $5 million hasn’t been raised, Walker said enough has been secured to begin construction and fundraising will continue to finish off the project. He said the board is doing everything it can to stick to the $5 million cost that was projected several years ago, despite increased costs of construction goods.
Schickedanz Construction of Fort Madison has been hired as the contractor for the work.
“We’re trying to remain around that level so we’ve scaled some things back, but we still plan on having the structure up by this time next year and be in it. Then we’ll finish it as we go,” Walker said.
“Fundraising will continue to go on. We’d like to have some money left in the bank for operations to keep us in the black every month. We don’t have it all raised yet, but we’re hoping the money we do have will get us 75% of the way there.”
Protectors of Animal Welfare of North Lee County, better known as P.A.W. Animal Shelter has been serving Fort Madison and Lee County for well over 40 years. The last 30 out of their current building located at 2031 48th Street.
In late 2010, a new Director was hired to oversee P.A.W. and things would soon begin to change. New staff, fundraisers, and most importantly – more animals being adopted.
The new facility is designed to be efficient, easy to navigate, and will allow the public to have a more hands-on approach to the animals waiting to be adopted. There will be inside/out kennel runs so no animals will be living outside- a “MUST have”, according to P.A.W. Director Sandy Brown.
The new shelter and adoption center will have Meet-n-Greet Rooms. Cats will be on one designated side, dogs housed on the other. Nurseries, a true isolation room, play areas, a surgery room for spay clinics, laundry rooms, and much, much more.
Throughout the last 12 years, P.A.W. has grown from adoption of 75 animals a year to consistently adopting well over 600-800 animals a year. They now have pets in 29 states as well as Germany and St Croix.
Walker said he’s flattered at how the community has supported P.A.W. efforts at a time when there is so much need.
“There’s plenty of worthy causes out there and we’re just trying to fill a need. There’s mental health and child care and people in need. But we’ve been lucky enough to have good support no matter what,” he said.
P.A.W. also works closely with the Lee Co. Sheriff’s Dept., the Fort Madison Police Department, as well as other local law enforcement in the surrounding areas, taking in strays and animals pulled by animal control officers. P.A.W. is the largest no-kill facility in the area.
The talk of a new shelter began in 2018 when the board was given the opportunity to purchase four acres just north of their current location. Knowing “someday” would come, P.A.W. Animal Shelter purchased the property along with two acres they had been leasing for the last 30 years.
All the land was paid in full in 2019.
Dolly Stancil, who has served on the shelter board for the past 32 years, said the new building will be a tremendous upgrade from current facilities.
“It’s almost like a palace compared to what we’re sitting in now. It’s going to be so fantastic. Right now, there is no meet-and-greet for people to visit with the dog. We don’t have that now. You’re either out in the weather or you’re crowded in this little place up front. It’s not going to be that way in this new facility,” Stancil said.
She said initial estimates approached $10 million, but she said the board was very frugal in cutting from plans to create a sustainable project that was about half the costs.
“We’ve got a very nice plan now. We’re still doing fundraisers and taking donations, but it’s our hope that no later than September we’re breaking ground.”
The new facility will also have an on-boarding room where animals coming into the facility can be screened and treated, and even segregated if presenting with any diseases.
Brown wrote in the release that the new adoption center and shelter will be a place the community and those that have supported the shelter operations so faithfully can be proud of.
“We could not have done this without your faithful support, generosity, and belief in what we do,” she wrote.
Anyone wishing to donate to the P.A.W. Building fund may do so by clicking on the donation button on their website (pawfortmadison.com) use their Pay Pal, Venmo, mail to 2031 48th Street, Fort Madison, IA 52627, or by taking your donation to Lee Co Bank and Trust, 801 Ave. F, Fort Madison, IA.