By Audrey Spencer
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - Without the financial assistance gathered by the Friends of the Lampasas Animal Shelter, employees of the shelter might be up to their hackles in kennel-crazed dogs.
The Friends, an organization established six months after the shelter opened in 2009, raises money to support shelter needs, whether they are beds, surgeries or a shaded dog exercise area.
"I talked to the head of the shelter, and the first thing I did was say, 'Tell us some things you want,'" said Mary Black Davis, founder and president of the Friends. "She said, 'The thing I'd most like to have is a playground for the dogs.'"
It was the organization's first fundraiser project; within six months, it had collected $13,000 for paving and gating the 1,400-square-foot exercise area.
"In order for a playground to be utilized, they've got to have it in concrete for fear of disease," said Davis. "These dogs that come into the shelter may have parvo, distemper, things like that. They have to be very careful about sanitation. You can't just fence in an area and call it a dog park."
Having some place to let the dogs run around and play has reduced the occurrence of "kennel-crazy" dogs, said Kasey Dressell, shelter supervisor.
Dogs show signs of being kennel-crazed when they haven't had a chance to use up energy, and may become aggressive or hurt themselves.
"Since getting the play yard, we don't see that anymore except maybe in very high-strung dogs," said Dressell. "They have a swimming pool out there, tons of toys. In the end, it helps us find out what the dogs like and gives us a chance to get out there and handle them and see what their personalities are like outside the cage."
The play area was built more than a year ago. In the coming weeks, the Friends will sponsor canvas shades so the area can be used after 11 a.m. this summer.
"In the summertime, you know how hot concrete gets; that's a problem," said Davis. "They were only able to use it before 11 in the morning."
A member of the Friends, Gene Bills, a retiree with a background in manufacturing and engineering, is acting as project manager for the shade installation.
The shades, made of sail-shaped pieces of fabric by Coolaroo, will be removable in case of storms.
"We set up a budget of $2,500 ... but that doesn't really count maybe 150 volunteer hours," said Bills. "How do you put a number on that? It's priceless when you have community participation."
The shades' material will block 80 percent of ultraviolet rays from the exercise area, giving the shelter more opportunities to use it through the sweltering summer months.
With about 50 members and a "working" board, said Davis, the Friends' financial contributions to the shelter for projects such as the exercise yard and spaying or neutering animals help with the shelter's success.
"We definitely appreciate them and so do all the animals here," said Dressell. "Definitely our dogs would be suffering. There would be no place for them to get out and play."
Contact Audrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.
To learn more about the Friends of the Lampasas Animal Shelter, or to donate, email email@example.com, or call Mary Black Davis at (512) 564-0356.