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East County Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 8 months ago

Animal rescue's $10 million renovation underway in Lakewood Ranch area

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Nate's Honor Animal Rescue begins construction after fundraising nets $7 million of its goal.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Leaders of Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue are thinking bigger and bolder as they brace for a yearlong transformation of the rescue’s Lorraine Road campus.

In March 2018, leaders Dari and Rob Oglesby announced that Nate’s would need to raise $8 million to build a new campus with a 20,000-square-foot welcome and adoption center and a 3,500-square-foot intake building (used to quarantine new animals when they arrive). Now they’re shooting for $10 million. The extra funding will go toward creating a new 4,000-square-foot training center, expanding the intake building to 5,000 square feet and facilitating other design changes meant to meet the organization’s long-term needs.

Rob Oglesby, Nate’s director of operations, said Nate’s is relying on its base of adoptive families and the community at large to contribute the remaining $3 million, and he is confident the organization will achieve its goal before the new facilities open in late 2020, even though there are plenty of organizations competing for funding.

For example, Animal Network is trying to raise $2 million for Manatee County Animal Service’s future facility at the same time Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is vying for $130 million for a new aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park, and The Players Centre for Performing Arts is trying to raise approximately $30 million for a theater in Lakewood Ranch.

“No matter what we’re building, it’s full steam ahead,” Oglesby said. “Is it simple and easy? No. But when we started this campus, people said: ‘You’re too far east. People will never come.’ Now look at us. We’ve gone from 300 adoptions [a year] to 2,100.”

Nate's Honor Animal Rescue Board President Al Wolfson and Executive Director Dari Oglesby join other officials and board members in a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 6. Construction is expected to last about one year.

Nate’s formally broke ground on the expansion Dec. 6. Nate’s will have demolished three existing buildings on the property and constructed three new ones by the time the project is finished in about one year. Oglesby said Nate’s 8-acre Lorraine Road campus at 4951 Lorraine Road, Bradenton, will include parvo and maternity wards for dogs, a family-friendly education and community center, a veterinary clinic, more cottages to house dogs and cats, and a dog pool and patio.

The changes should double capacity for dogs and increase capacity for cats by 50% — which would allow Nate’s to save up to about 4,500 animals annually, compared to the 2,000 it has saved  so far for 2019. In the past, Nate’s had 10 dog cottages, and it will be adding eight more to increase on-site capacity from 60 to about 108 dogs. The number of cats housed on-site will increase from about 20 to 40, Oglesby said.

Dari Oglesby, Nate’s executive director, said Nate’s is at 70% of its fundraising goal, which is in addition to its day-to-day operational needs. About 35% of its $750,000 operating budget comes from donations. The remainder comes from adoption fees and fundraisers.

Rob Oglesby said the fundraising campaign, called Journey Home, will focus on reaching out to its 14,000 families who have adopted from Nate’s since its inception, as well as identifying corporate and other sponsors. Sponsorships vary from $100 to $2 million. So far, the average capital contribution is coming in around $500, compared to a typical operating donation of $50.

Rob Oglesby said Nate’s has raised $3.5 million, which is being matched (up to $5 million) by an anonymous donor. He said there have been seven donors who have contributed $50,000. One donor has given more than $100,000.

He said he expects a wave of financial support to come in following the groundbreaking and yet more when the buildings are nearly complete.

The Oglesbys said the improvements, while focused on saving more animals, will also help Nate’s become more self-sustaining and less reliant upon donations for its future operating needs.

“Everything we’re adding are revenue streams to support ourselves,” Rob Oglesby said. “Vet, training, community rooms, birthday parties — all of those are ways to engage the community.”

The Oglesbys said adding the training center was a much-needed component to address pet retention, both for animals adopted from Nate’s and those in the community.

“We want to make sure the animals are being cared for and trained correctly, so they stay in their home,” Rob Oglesby said.

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