“It’s a game changer.” That’s how Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) Executive Director Allison Black Cornelius describes her organization’s plans to build a state of the art campus on Lakeshore Parkway.
Located along Sydney Drive and Lucrene Lane, GBHS and the Jefferson County Commission are working to acquire several adjacent lots from U.S. Steel to build a new animal impoundment center, adoption center and animal hospital. The proposed campus totals approximately 16 acres.
An Inefficient System
According to Cornelius, most people know GBHS through its Adoption and Outreach Center on Snow Drive near the Homewood High School Football Stadium.
What local residents may not know is that GBHS has the contract to operate Jefferson County’s impoundment and animal control facility in Woodlawn. The present building was built in the mid-1900s and is far past its useful life.
A third facility is the GBHS animal hospital where their veterinarians care for the animals and perform spay and neutering services. The facility’s location? Hoover.
“We make UPS and FedEx look like they’re doing nothing because every single morning, employees have to load animals into crates and onto trucks at Woodlawn (impoundment center). They have to do the exact same thing on Snow Drive (adoption center). Then they use trucks to take the animals to Hoover,” said Cornelius.
Loading and unloading the dogs and cats can lead to disease and illness.
“When they are stressed out, their immune systems get compromised,’ she added.
Looking to Locate a Campus Since 2015
Since 2015, GBHS has been looking for a site to co-locate the impoundment center, hospital and adoption and outreach center. If they can build a campus, the GBHS number crunchers predict they can reduce redundancies by 23%. Bottomline – save money.
The proposed campus off Lakeshore has several other potential amenities, including a hiking trail to Red Mountain Park, if easements are secured. Likewise, there is an interest in adding retail, making the place a destination for GBHS volunteers and animal lovers by locating a “cat cafe” or even a pub or brewery.
Cornelius told Bham Now, historically impoundment centers and adoption centers were often hidden from the public. GBHS wants to change that.
“People will want to hang out there (at the new campus), even if they’re not coming to adopt an animal. They will want to hang out, picnic, run or bike. It will become a really great place for families to serve and volunteer. It will become a catalyst for economic development.”
More than just facilities, the new GBHS campus will change forever the way we treat animals. In the big picture, that’s the biggest game changer of them all. Cornelius summed it up best.
“If you live in a community that teaches compassion for animals. You build a community that has a lot of good social capital.”