Middle Keys animal-control provider looks to expand shelter, starts fundraising campaign

waxford@keynoter.comAugust 16, 2014 

These are among the adoptable dogs at the Marathon animal shelter. SHARK has begun a fundraising campaign to expand.


Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Florida Keys is looking to expand the Marathon animal shelter on Aviation Boulevard.

The drive for donations will start Thursday at 6 p.m. at Cabana Breezes restaurant in Key Colony Beach with a 50/50 raffle and silent auction.

"We hope to build two new buildings. One will be for quarantine and the other will be stray intake," said Executive Director Nycole Romeo. "We will be fundraising for the building. It's estimated to cost $102,500 and we can start with half of that."

Romeo says the current 1,110-square-foot building is not enough to house the 46 dogs, 68 cats, seven rabbits and four guinea pigs that are now there. The shelter, which takes in about 300 dogs a year, usually has around 120 animals on site any day of the year.

The new building will be L shaped and exclusively for dogs. Romeo said the shelter will build a similar building for cats.

Some dogs now stay in outside shaded kennels due to a lack of adequate indoor space. The facility has 16 indoor kennels. Most are doubled up with dogs.

SHARK President Chris Zuelch, an accountant, said some renovations have been made in the past few months but that the shelter still needs to expand.

"There's no way we can make due what we have now," Zuelch said. "We would like additional space for cats and do kennels, so we don't have to pick and choose goes inside. It'll be equal amongst all animals we're housing."

The organization is contracted by Monroe County to provide animal control from mile marker 16 to mile marker 70. It has a $232,556 annual contract that runs through next June 30.

SHARK spayed and neutered 334 animals last year, adopting out 202.

Technician Tara Ramsay said incidents of abandoned animals are increasing due to people moving from the Keys to find work. SHARK is searching for volunteers to walk dogs and foster families to temporarily house dogs. Ramsay said food and medical attention will be provided by SHARK. To participate, call 743-4800.

To help with the addition to the shelter, visit www.Keysrescue.org and click on the donate tab. Donations can be made with credit cards via Paypal, the Go Fund Me link or mailed checks.

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