By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On October 18, Rainbow City held a ribbon cutting for its new animal shelter.
Previously Rainbow City contracted its animal control services out to a local veterinarian, but the contract was set to end at the end of 2016. Faced with a hefty price increase, Rainbow City officials searched for another facility to contract its animal control services to. After finding out that the other facilities in Etowah County were too full to accept animals long-term, the city began planning for its own facility.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun welcomed everyone to the new shelter.
“I want to say how proud I am that Rainbow City’s been able to open this facility,” said Calhoun. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
Calhoun went on to thank everyone who helped make the Rainbow City Animal Shelter a reality. He especially thanked Southside elected officials for agreeing to use the facility to house its animals.
“That is cost saving for both cities,” said Calhoun. “As close as we are and as small as Etowah County is, when we come together and do something with a neighboring city, it is cost saving to the taxpayers of Etowah County, Rainbow City and Southside.”
“I appreciate the opportunity for Southside to partner with Rainbow City,” said Southside Mayor Wally Burns. “This facility is going to help us a lot, and this is a great facility.”
Rainbow City broke ground on the animal shelter in April. The 6,250 square foot building features 56 built-in kennels and 32 additional kennels. The shelter began accepting animals on October 2.
The shelter still needs fencing and paving of the parking lot and access road, but Calhoun said that both projects are in the works.
“We will have some fencing, and we will have some paving,” said Calhoun. “The paving will be done when we have our fall paving project, and the fencing will be done, I hope, in the next few weeks.”
Calhoun went on to thank Police Chief Jonathon Horton, as he is in charge of animal control, and the new shelter director Andrea Willit and her staff. He also thanked several city employees for their work on the project, as well as the shelter’s architect, the contractor, the Humane Society, Etowah County Animal Shelter, Exchange Bank and other supportive members of the community.
Etowah County Commissioner Tim Choate said that he was excited about the new shelter.
“The more [shelters] we have the better off the county will be,” said Choate. “We can get these animals in and get them adopted out.”
RBC Police Chief Jonathon Horton said that when he started as the police chief he never imagined he would be undertaking a project like creating an animal shelter for Rainbow City.
“I’m thankful now that I did it,” said Horton.
Horton went on to thank the people that helped make the new shelter a success, including shelter staff in other cities that allowed him to view facilities and informed him on what features are important and most helpful.
“I just want to say again that I am so thankful that we have got this here, not just for the citizens but the animals,” said Horton, before introducing the shelter director.
“I just want to let you know that we have a great outlook for the future,” said Willit. “We are looking forward to being able to house the animals that come in from our area and Southside and other cities that we end up working with. It’s very important to us to be able to provide a safe, clean environment for these animals and give them the best opportunity at life, whether it be through a rescue or an adoption, whatever the course of action may be.”
After everyone spoke, the Gadsden-Etowah Chamber conducted a ribbon cutting followed by tours of the new facility.