SALISBURY — Walking between the concrete block walls of the unfinished building, Nina Dix is quick to point out the architectural features that will make the structure a perfect place for dogs.
She mentions the building’s 42 kennels separated into four sections, which will help reduce the spread of germs between animals. It highlights the spacious visiting rooms and high ceilings that let in plenty of light.
Every detail of the building, Dix said, was designed with dogs in mind.
“It’s more about adoptions and volunteers and getting homes (dogs) and all that stuff,” Dix said. “The way it should be.”
The Nina Dix Dog Adoption Center has been a dream for so long, but it is finally becoming a tangible place. Walls were erected, door frames installed and an under-roof was placed on top. If all goes as planned, the center will be finished in June.
Shelter Guardians, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting animals at the Rowan County Animal Shelter, kicked off construction of the building. The approximately 11,600 square foot center is being built adjacent to the animal shelter and will be donated to the county upon completion. The center will mainly welcome dogs available for adoption.
Jon Palmer is the building’s architect and Chris Bradshaw is the contractor overseeing its construction. The center is named after Dix, co-founder and chairman of Shelter Guardians, who led fundraising efforts to make the project viable.
The initial cost of the center was estimated at around $2.1 million before increasing to $2.3 million. The price ballooned to just over $2.4 million due to rising material costs. For example, building insulation has gone from about $15,000 to $55,000 in the last few months.
Shelter Guardians raised enough money to complete the project, but the organization is still accepting charitable donations. All money donated will go to support the center and the dogs at the Rowan County Animal Shelter, Dix said. A man is committed to growing a rose garden outside.
More information about Shelter Guardians can be found online at shelterguardians.org.
Significant delays also slowed the progress of the project. The tin roof for the building’s roof arrived on Monday, several months after it was ordered. Once the roof is installed, the interior work can begin in full force.
The front of the center will house several visitation rooms to give potential adopters a place to interact with a dog they are considering adopting. Most visitation rooms have two doors: one that provides access from the reception area and another that connects to the kennels, which will minimize unnecessary contact between the dogs and the public.
The kennels are separated into four sections on both sides of the building surrounding the “central core”, which houses laundry, grooming space, kitchen, offices, rest room and other support infrastructure.
“It was all confined to the center to support the kennels on either side,” Palmer said.
None of the kennels face each other, preventing aggressive dogs from intimidating more timid canines.
“It’s a different atmosphere than it is now,” Dix said.
A section of the kennel is specifically for dogs recovering from a procedure. A glass window will allow staff members to check on animals.
Each of the kennels will have exterior access to allow the dogs to get some fresh air. There will be an outdoor play area where the dogs can stretch their legs. Dix dreams of installing an artificial turf dog park outside the center, but that’s a project she will tackle later.
Eight storage nodes strategically located throughout the building will provide space to store equipment. A large, airy room in the middle of the center will serve as a surgery center, an upgrade to the small space currently used at the shelter for sterilization and other procedures.
A fenced admission area for dogs will be constructed outside the center under a canopy. The center will be separated from the Rowan County Animal Shelter by several dozen feet and a fence, but Bradshaw said there are plans to provide connectivity between the two buildings.
Dix said the goal is to provide the county with a facility that won’t be a financial burden. The heating and air conditioning system being installed will require little maintenance, which means the county should not need an outside contractor for repairs. The fiberglass door frames should hold up over time, saving the county from having to replace them anytime soon.
Although there is still work to be done, Dix is happy with what has been done so far. She can’t wait to see the end result.
“It’s going to be beautiful when it’s over.”