We all know the feeling. You lose a beloved pet and there is that empty place. You want the world to know how special he or she was … so maybe you post a memorial on Facebook and Twitter, too. Your friends and friends-of-friends offer condolences. Then you are left alone, with your grief.
When Millard Choate, President of Choate Construction Company, one of the largest commercial building contractors in the southeastern United States, and his wife, Sue, lost their beloved Weimaraner, Sadie, after thirteen wonderful years, Mr. Choate chose to give Sadie a legacy. He arranged a surprise for Sue, an animal welfare advocate, at the May 2013 11th Anniversary Party for Furkids and SmallDog Rescue & Humane Society. Taking the podium amid many tears, Samantha Shelton, President and CEO of Furkids, announced the Choate $100,000 matching grant donation in Sadie’s memory. The grant and its matching funds would provide desperately-needed renovations for SDR’s 34-year-old dog shelter.
Furkids is the largest no-kill shelter in the state of Georgia. It offers hope to homeless animals languishing in animal control facilities and high-kill shelters and is well-known for accepting dogs and cats with serious health issues - animals often overlooked by other rescue groups. Samantha Shelton had this to say this about the grant: “Millard Choate’s contribution is a significant financial gift to Furkids and an answered prayer for all of us who have been struggling with how to upgrade our dog shelter. What’s equally significant is that Millard’s gift goes far beyond money. This contribution is part of a love story – a dog’s love for his owner, a woman’s love for her dog, and a man’s love for his wife. We are sincerely touched by the depth of this gift and are so grateful for it.”
The Furkids volunteers and staff embarked on an all-out fundraising effort for the matching money, and construction was started on August 5, 2013. Initially, the plan was to finish the project by the end of November, but construction always takes longer than planned and this undertaking was no exception. It was nearly five months in the works. Resident dogs were housed primarily by foster families for the duration. Because Furkids rescues nearly a dog a day from animal shelters and animal control, grateful volunteers stepped up their already-monumental efforts continuing to take in those in need, even without an operating shelter.
Ultimately, the total value of the renovation was $400,000. Originally, the dogs had one concrete play yard; now they have seven play yards on grass. The air is fresh and clean, thanks to the new HVAC system. The new fencing is strong and secure. The indoor kennel is completely renovated with new windows, floors, ceiling and walls. The dedicated medical room is finished and there is room for adopting families to “meet and greet” their prospective family members.
Fittingly, the renovated space has been dubbed “Sadie’s Place” in memory of the beloved dog who touched the Choates’ hearts.
Please join us on Saturday, May 10th, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, for our dedication … we’ll have a ribbon cutting, live music, and refreshments. Take a tour of the facilities, learn about volunteer opportunities, and meet some of the coolest adoptable dogs in town! We hope to see you there!
1520 Union Hill Rd., Alpharetta, GA 30005