Local SPCA receives land donation from City National Bank

Posted: August 22, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A local bank branch has done a good deed in the form of a deed for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Winchester and Frederick and Clarke Counties.

During the grand opening celebration of its new location at the intersection of Valley Avenue and Jubal Early Drive on Friday, City National Bank presented the SPCA with a deed to a quarter-acre lot on Bow Wood Trail in Shawneeland, west of Winchester in Frederick County.

“I was completely floored,” SPCA Executive Director Ellen Taylor said Wednesday. “[The gift] came out of nowhere.”

The donation will be used as part of the SPCA’s capital campaign as it builds a new Animal Adoption and Humane Education Center.

Taylor said the Winchester SPCA board meets Monday, and the land donation will be discussed. She said she assumes the board will sell the land.

The campaign’s goal is to raise about $1 million, Taylor said.

“We changed our direction,” she said. “Our original plan was to build a new shelter, and that was $2.5 million. Since then, the building next door to us went into foreclosure, so that is a much less expensive project.”

Taylor said the plan is for the shelter’s current site at 115 Featherbed Lane to serve as a “pound,” or intake facility for animals brought in by animal control officers or surrendered by their owners. They will also receive medical and behavioral rehabilitation there if needed, she said.

In May, the SPCA bought the buildings at 111 Featherbed Lane — the former home of Impressions Plus, which went out of business earlier this year, and a Habitat for Humanity ReStore — in a foreclosure auction for $1.2 million.

While Habitat continues to lease its store space from the SPCA, the former Impressions Plus site will be used to house dogs and cats ready for new homes.

Currently, the intake of animals, their medical and behavioral rehabilitation and housing for dogs and cats ready for new homes is all handled at 115 Featherbed Lane.

“We’re really limited,” Taylor said. “We really want to exhaust every possible option to find an animal a home. That sometimes requires more time, more medical rehabilitation and room for enrichment.”

The current facility has room for about 130 animals, Taylor said.

“Right now, we’re running just a little under capacity,” she said.

There are about 90 cats at the shelter right now.

“In this [new] facility, it’s not to pack everybody in,” Taylor said. “It’s to really be able to house the animals in a more enriching environment. If we can feature animals and really key in on their unique characteristics, they’re more [likely] to be identified by new families and taken home much more quickly.”

She said that in recent years the shelter has shifted from being just a pound in which animals are taken in and held for a certain period of time and then euthanized.

“I’m pretty proud of the direction we’re going in,” said Taylor, who has been executive director for about five months.

So far this year, 426 cats have been adopted out, she said. Last year, 621 cats were placed in homes, up from 414 in 2011 and 200 in 2010.

Feline euthanasia has also decreased in recent years, according to Taylor. So far this year, 179 cats have been put down due to illness or their being feral, compared to 378 in 2012 and 640 in 2011.

Donating to the SPCA is part of Charleston, W.Va.-based City National Bank’s effort to get more involved with the community, said Katrina Meade, region retail manager for the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

“We’re really trying to help the local community nonprofit organizations, and SPCA is a great organization,” she said.

Anyone interested in buying the lot, which is buildable for a single-family home, can call the SPCA at 540-662-8616.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com