MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After nearly 20 years in a facility that was supposed to be temporary, Monroe County Friends of Animals has more than outgrown the space.

Plans for a new facility were approved back in 2021. However, they needed the money to start construction. After a significant donation, they now have the funds to start the process.

“It started with the recognition that we needed a new shelter. All of this is supported and driven by volunteers,” Monroe County Friends of Animals Board President Cheryl Ulmer.

After years of struggling with overcrowding and pleading for the community’s help, Monroe County Friends of Animals has raised enough money to move out of the old animal shelter.

The price tag is $4.3 million.

“One person in particular has donated a significant amount of money that we felt comfortable starting the groundbreaking now and that is Barbara Eastbourne,” Ulmer said. “To recognize her, our center will be called the Eastbourne Animal Center.”

They hope to open the new shelter in the fall of next year.

Ulmer said the old facility served its purpose but lacked important features. “Farm land was donated. The farm building was open and between the volunteers and the county we’ve tried to make it as sufficient as possible, but it doesn’t address disease control or sanitation,” she said.

Now, the work on a new building begins.

“It’s an awesome experience just to see hard work pay off because we go from a facility that was meant to be a veterinary clinic, not to be intended as an animal shelter to a full-fledged animal center now that includes so many different services for our animals, our pets, our citizens,” Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram. “So this is a huge step for Monroe County.”

“MCFA will actually run and operate and own the shelter and the county will supplement them and support them along the way,” Mayor Ingram said.

Ulmer said it’s a step in the right direction to keep their animal residents in a safer and more spacious environment.

“To look at this and see the potential and then next year the building is a dream.”

Monroe County Friends of Animals is working with Shelter Planners of America to create the best space for their animals. Right now they are working on clearing the site and construction will start at the end of the month.

Donations to help build the new shelter. They say they are about 20% away from their goal. If you would like to help, you can click here.