Paws for a Moment by Bonny Corbeil

Our ACC

This is the last of a three part series on “Our ACC” addressing what your Board of Directors is presently working on for the good of our community animal shelter.

There are a number of ongoing animal housing needs that our shelter has to address. The rapid growth of our small town of Cruz Bay has resulted in many asking why the shelter is in the heart of town. The answer to that — though we have in some ways already outgrown it, is that it is what we have! To many of us old-timers, our new building is wonderful in comparison to the “old shack.” Surely an Animal Care Center in the country would be wonderful!

Perhaps, someday, someone will donate a piece of property on St. John for just that, so that our animals can be housed in a less-congested location with appropriate outdoor facilities. So many more educational on-site programs for children as well as animals could then be developed. It is definitely a top ACC wish!

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A major project that our ACC has undertaken this year is to design and build new “dog runs”. While our current dog runs are sheltered, they face west and the afternoon sun can be brutal! Traditionally we have more dogs than we can accommodate resulting in over-crowding. Most dogs need to be doubled-up. Some dogs, of course, do not “share” well. In addition to over-crowding, the existing runs do not provide efficient access for cleaning or exercising dogs. Unfortunately, we do not always have volunteers to regularly walk our dogs so it becomes quite a task to our limited staff and budget to ensure that our animals are walked and exercised in the limited area that our present facility offers.

ACC board member and shelter chair Diana Ripley and building committee chair Bill Dove have been working closely together with plans which were donated by local architect Bill Willigerod. Permits have also been secured.

John Fuller, ACC president, recently renegotiated our lease with the V.I. government and said: “When our old (expired) year-to-year lease was recently renegotiated to a 20-year lease with renewal options, we were also able to add an additional 16 feet of property across the back of the shelter to enable us to build additional runs, with better access, and provide shade from the sun. This will be a significant capital improvement to the shelter, but one that is beyond the operating budget. We hope that the traditionally generous St. John community will step forward again with donations of materials and labor to complete this addition.”

Bill and Dianna plan on sharing more details of this important and necessary project in the near future.

Other major ACC projects your board is focusing on is in finding and developing more creative ways of fundraising to support our operational budget. At the present time, we have only two major fundraisers for our ACC — “Wagapalooza” and “Christmas for the Animals” which take an enormous amount of volunteer time to organize and run. With a minimal operating expense of $150,000, we must find many more ways of financially supporting our good work with animals! The financial crisis, that we found ourselves in two years ago must not happen again. There are so many animal lovers out there who truly care about our continued successful operation.

We would like to personally invite you to come up with an idea to “help us care!” Community neighborhoods could find fun and a great sense of purpose in planning small fundraisers on our behalf. “Snow birds” could be willing to host cocktail sips at their beautiful villas, all in the interest of helping us serve the needs of animals on St. John.

Do you have a great idea for a fundraiser that you would be willing to organize?

We welcome more involvement from our community, whether you are a business person or a citizen. Susanne Kirk is fundraising chair and she would be happy to have more community input and involvement.

We are also hoping to do an extensive ACC membership drive to ensure those folks who love animals and want to regularly contribute to our ACC will have that opportunity. B.J. Harris is membership chair and is presently developing a database. Anyone out there who has the skills and expertise to help us succeed in this area is invited to “help us care.”

The other “untapped” source of possible funding is through grants and foundations. Grant writing is competitive, time-consuming and requires a good degree of skill. Any community members with these research skills who would be interested in grant writing for our organization are welcomed.

It is also important to acknowledge at this time-all of the love and financial support that this community has given and continues to give to our ACC. There are so many good people and local businesses who give their time and resources in ensuring that we are able to do what we do.

Paws, for a moment…and please know how grateful both the animals and the ACC are for your continued support.