Cat condominiums

Cool cats and kittens corralled together bask in their new condominiums thanks to a donation made by the High Country Charitable Foundation.

NEWLAND — Cats and kittens available for adoption at the Avery County Humane Society are now able to get their 15 hours of sleep thanks to a donation made by the High Country Charitable Foundation that renovated the cat condominiums at the shelter.

Executive Director Gwynne Dyer said the donation made it possible for the shelter to replace the aging material, which was made out of particle board, with a much sturdier substance that is healthier for the cats.

“The whole idea is that the particle board was coming apart, and bacteria was able to get in. Basically, it was becoming a danger to the cats. We were told that we wouldn’t have passed our next state inspection. We always receive clean inspections,” Dyer said.

The High Country Charitable Foundation was the lead donor for the project, with The Copwood Hill Foundation and the John F. Smiekel Foundation contributing as well. Avery County Humane Society is privately funded with most of its funding raised through donations. Each animal the shelter takes in is tested, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, micro-chipped and dewormed.

“We couldn’t have done this project without them,” Dyer said. “[HCCF] will call and say, ‘Do the cats have new homes yet?’ So they take a real interest in the project here.”

The shelter reopened on May 8 as part of phase one of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening strategy. It had initially closed as part of the governor’s initial executive order. Despite reopening, the facility is continuing to accept appointments for adoptions and other services over the phone to prevent too many people from being inside the facility at once. In fact, the shelter has even seen an increase in adoptions recently.

“We can keep up to 55 cats and kittens,” Shelter Manager Charlene Calhoun said. “We still have to wait on some of these [condominiums] to be finished. With Spay Neuter Alliance being shut and not doing surgeries, we can’t take in ferals right now because we can’t get them fixed. So right now we have cleared off the waiting list, and all that’s left on it are ferals. We’re just waiting on more.”

Normally, the shelter is able to raise funds through events held throughout the summer, but due to the continued prevalence of COVID-19 and the restrictions in place because of it, Dyer says that the shelter will have to pursue funding through different means.

“Like everyone else, we’re worried about how we’re going to go about [raising funds]. A lot of it is going to be talking to people individually. Hopefully, we’ll be having some small gatherings, but we’ll see how that goes. We really rely on the generosity of the community, and a lot of our part-time residents are very generous,” Dyer said.

Dyer admits that raising funds can be difficult even in times when the world is not dealing with a global pandemic. Fortunately, there are organizations like the High Country Charitable Foundation that are willing to extend a helping hand.

“That’s why a group like the High Country Charitable Foundation is so important for us. What they do in the community is amazing,” Dyer said.

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