GATESVILLE — Katt Perry, at the wheel of her car, pressed her thumb on the button of a hand-held, electronic box. Large, gleaming white automated gates in front of her car swung outward, allowing Perry to drive onto the 14¾ acres of land that will be transformed into a sanctuary for active military soldiers, veterans and their pets.
“Welcome to MVP Sanctuary,” Perry announced.
The engine behind the project is its CEO and founder, volunteer Linda Spurlin-Dominick. She has been working with Perry, a member of the Texas National Guard, and many other volunteers to get the ponderous project underway.
Spurlin-Dominick won an award last year for volunteering more than 40 hours a week to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, a nationwide nonprofit organization that cares for pets of people deployed in the military.
Now, Spurlin-Dominick has another pet project: the new Military Veterans and Pets, or MVP, Sanctuary, which obtained nonprofit status as an affiliate to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.
Spurlin-Dominick sat in a trailer on the expansive land in Coryell County about 14 miles west of Fort Hood. In her kitchen, she explained how the scrubby grass and dirt will be replaced by amenities for soldiers, veterans and their families.
To the south, she said, will be a private pet care facility and a fenced play area for pets and children as well as a horseshoes pit game area.
To the east will be a fishing pond and covered pavilions. To the west, a volleyball court and stands will be built, and to the north, a place for picnics and memorial gardens for veterans and their pets.
The sanctuary, she said, will be similar to one in Arkansas and will be the model for five other sanctuaries throughout the United States.
“When it’s completed, it will look like a park,” Spurlin-Dominick said.
Donations for the sanctuary have come in from across the nation.
The engineering division of the Texas Army National Guard, as a training project, is donating its time, labor and skills to help build everything.
After it’s up and running, the sanctuary will serve Central Texas, including Coryell and Bell counties, and particularly people from Fort Hood and those using area veterans’ services. The sanctuary also will have a facility that trains companion dogs for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Spurlin-Dominick said the sanctuary should open Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
Learn more about the project at www.mvpsanctuary.org.