Construction on an addition to the Cookeville-Putnam County Animal Shelter will begin this week.
Shelter Director Jennifer Hutchinson-Tracy said the space was originally planned during construction of the shelter, but it was cut for budgetary reasons.
“It was one of the first things I asked when I came here to interview and toured,” Hutchinson-Tracy said. “I asked if there was a place for meeting, and they told me, yes, they had it on the plans, but they couldn’t do it. It was something I very much wanted, and when the opportunity came up, I was really excited to see it start coming together.”
It should take about six months to complete the upgrade to the building.
The Cookeville City Council and Putnam County Commissioners approved the 1,000-square foot addition in April. Hutchinson-Tracy said she hopes to use the space to help educate the public about how to care for their animals.
“We’re hoping the educational opportunities that this will allow us to put into place will prevent animals from coming into the shelter or being returned to the shelter by offering more resources,” Hutchinson-Tracy said. “Whether it’s finding them services that they need to better care for their pets or deal with some behavioral problems. We will be able to hold some regular class work to support them.”
Hutchinson-Tracy said the addition will also allow space for staff training.
“It’s an area where we can train our own staff and volunteers away from the chaos of the shelter,” Hutchinson-Tracy said. “We can train them to do a better job at getting adopters and people together supporting our adopters with problems with their animals. If they are thinking about surrendering, we can talk them through the problem and give them some guidance.”
Hutchinson-Tracy said what they can do with the addition is almost limitless. She said she hopes to see it as a space for people to come together and learn how to be better pet owners.
“I’m really excited about doing some children’s programs,” Hutchinson-Tracy said. “Teaching responsible pet ownership and safety around animals. We could also teach basic obedience or any number of things. It’s really where we see the greatest need.”
The Cookeville-Putnam County Animal Shelter opened at its current location on the Gainesboro Grade in January 2015.