Groundbreaking on $8 million project set for this month.
After six hours of driving, Rob Oglesby pulled his van into the parking lot of Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue March 1 to unload 55 dogs he had transported from shelters in Georgia.
“This isn’t even the record,” said Oglesby, Honor’s director of development. “We had 77 last month.”
Nate’s in 2018 adopted out 2,136 dogs and cats. So far in 2019, it has found homes for 354. Those figures could
increase significantly if construction of Nate’s $8 million expansion goes as planned.
By March 21, the organization expects to be breaking ground on the project, which when finished will have a 20,000-square-foot welcome-and-adoption center and a 3,500-square-foot intake building for rescued animals. The adoption center includes a veterinary clinic, a full-service grooming center, a casual dining cafe and event rooms. The property’s existing intake barn will be remodeled into a training center.
“It’s going to allow us to bring in more animals and to provide more services to the community,” said Dari Oglesby, the organization’s executive director, who is married to Rob.
Nate’s operational budget is about $650,000 annually, but that figure will nearly double after the expansion is fully operational, Rob Oglesby said. Although some of the increase will be defrayed by rent from the veterinary clinic and other programs, Nate’s still will rely on adoption fees, donations and other revenues to fund its day-to-day operations. Its annual Ponies for Pups polo fundraiser is its largest. It draws more than 500 people and generates more than $50,000.
Of the $8 million needed for the project, $4 million has been raised to date through its Journey Home fundraising campaign. For the rest of the fundraising effort, an anonymous donor has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar any future donations.
This year’s “Wizard of Oz”-themed Ponies for Pups will be held March 9 at the Sarasota Polo Club. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the match starts at 1 p.m. General admission costs $10.
Rob Oglesby announced the expansion plans during the 2018 Ponies for Pups event and had projected to break ground in fall 2018. Plans were delayed in county permitting, but Rob Oglesby said he’s been assured permits will be finished this month.
Nate’s leaders plan to keep the Ranch campus on Lorraine Road open throughout the development process, and construction is phased accordingly.
Rob Oglesby said the first major phase will be raising the northern half of the property by about 1.5 feet and digging a 2-acre pond to help handle stormwater runoff. The remainder of the property will be raised throughout the duration of the project, expected to last about one year.
Rob Oglesby said elevating the land is important because Nate’s Ranch campus on Lorraine Road deals with flooding whenever there are heavy rains.
“The site work is huge,” Rob Oglesby said, noting just that part of the project costs $1 million. “That keeps us from ever flooding again.”