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Pets welcome visitors to their new ‘home’

About 100 people turned out Friday for the Brookhaven AnimalRescue League’s Grand Opening Celebration of its new adoptioncenter.

Beth Adcock, a BARL volunteer, said she was thrilled by thelarge turnout of visitors.

“I’ve probably known about half the people that have shown up,”Adcock said. “All the others have been new faces, which is greatbecause we want people to know that this facility is here forthem.”

Among those in attendance were community residents, BARLvolunteers and city and county officials, including Mayor BobMassengill and District Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts. A specialguest was Sweetpea Adams, who is the wife of original BARL founderVersie Adams.

Robert and Mary Lou Schmidt, representatives of the FrancesMcDonough Animal Care Foundation, were also present. The husbandand wife honored BARL in June with a $25,000 grant that helped fundthe outdoor and indoor/outdoor dog runs.

Mary Lou Schmidt said Susan Steen, a grant-writer and BARLvolunteer, kept her well-informed of the site’s progress throughoutthe construction period.

“What I saw today was what I had visualized in my head,” MaryLou Schmidt said. “I know that there was no waste, and every pennywas spent efficiently.”

The Frances McDonough Animal Care Foundation was created inhonor of Mary Lou Schmidt’s friend, Frances, who died of coloncancer in 1997.

Before her death Frances McDonough decided to establish afoundation that would provide financial assistance to small animalorganizations.

“Today was a tribute to Frances and her husband and about ourlove to Brookhaven and the shelter,” Mary Lou Schmidt said.

BARL volunteer Rusty Adcock said the new center will betterserve the animals and the community.

The dogs were previously housed in an outdoor facility next tothe Hartley Gove Sons Thermometer Plant while cats were boarded atlocal veterinarians’ clinics.

The animals were moved into the new facility Wednesday by BARLvolunteers.

The 3,000 square foot site includes an office, dog groomingarea, cat “colony,” 14 indoor/outdoor kennel runs, 10 indoorkennels, three large outdoor dog runs and three-quarters of an acreof fenced property to be used as an exercise area.

The cat colony is aan air conditioned and heated room free ofcages with an attached screened porch, which they can enter througha “kitty door.”

The three large outdoor dog runs each have a large dog house.The three dog houses are scaled-down replicas of a church, beachhouse and mercantile.

The new center is cleaner, more attractive and moreaccommodating, Adcock said.

“We had several people getting in the kennels to pet the dogs,and it was great to see. We definitely couldn’t have had that typeof interaction with the previous outdoor site,” Rusty Adcocksaid.