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Progress continues on Nate's Honor Animal Rescue expansion in Lakewood Ranch

Several amenities are now finished while work on pet cottages, a playground and an adoption center continues.

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As the temperature continues to rise, dogs at Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue have a new place to cool off. 

They can work on their doggy paddles in the nonprofit’s new bone-shaped pool that was completed June 7. 

If they don’t feel like going for a swim, dogs also can find respite from the heat under the new shaded areas. 

The pool and shaded areas are some of the newest aspects of the nonprofit’s expansion project that have been completed. 

Another is the quarter-mile trail around a lake toward the back of the property. The rescue put a fountain in the lake, and there is an area with pergolas and benches for volunteers and the dogs to rest as well.

Construction continues

The back half of the property where construction is completed is fenced off so the staff can start using the new facilities while keeping the dogs if they get loose. The fenced area includes a 4,300-square-foot training facility, approximately 5,000-square-foot intake building, cottages, shaded areas and the pool. 

The intake building was completed in October of last year, and the training facility was completed in January.

Rob Oglesby, development director for Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, said the rescue still is waiting for the playground to be completed. 

Work also continues on the animal cottages, four of which are having their roofs and other materials installed in June. 

“We have all the materials like the fans, windows, doors, so these four should be done pretty quickly,” Oglesby said. 

The other new cottages will continue to be worked on throughout the rest of the year. In total, Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue will have 17 cottages for dogs.  

Construction on the 23,000-square-foot welcome and adoption center continues. Oglesby said the roof is being delivered, and once it is in place, the plumbers will start working on the building the week of June 13. 

“Then we get a slab, and we’re off to the races,” Oglesby said. 

The Bark Bar is a part of the training room where dogs can easily get a drink during training.
The Bark Bar is a part of the training room where dogs can easily get a drink during training.

Oglesby said the expansion project is expected to be completed in January as the nonprofit continues to experience supply chain issues while navigating price increases on supplies. 

The fundraising goal for the project is $10 million, and the rescue has raised $8 million of that amount. 


From adoption to forever home

Oglesby said the expansion will allow Nate’s Honor to continue to help families and their new furry friends even after the adoption is complete. He said most of the reasons why people surrender their dogs is because they can’t afford veterinary care or the dog is misbehaving. 

“They can come back to the vet clinic so we know our animals are being taken care of and healthy,” Oglesby said. “It’s going to be affordable so that people will take care of their animals. If there’s an issue and they need training, we’re right here to offer those services.”

HoHo has fun in her cottage, next door to her brother, Ding Dong. Both are waiting to be adopted. Once the expansion project is complete, Nate's Honor Animal Rescue will have 17 cottages.
HoHo has fun in her cottage, next door to her brother, Ding Dong. Both are waiting to be adopted. Once the expansion project is complete, Nate's Honor Animal Rescue will have 17 cottages.

Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue hired two dog trainers, Rob Andrews and his wife, Jessica Johnson, to help with training the staff and to provide opportunities for community outreach.

Andrews and Johnson have previous experience working in a training facility that specializes in dog socialization as well as training difficult dogs who came from fighting backgrounds or dogs who have a history of biting. 

Andrews said he and Johnson jumped at the chance to join the rescue's staff. 

"We've known about Honor for years now and kind of worked with them sporadically through other shelters," Andrews said. "I've always had a high opinion of what they've been able to achieve and what they've been able to do. So when they called us and told us about this new place, we were both super eager to come on board."

The trainers will begin by training the staff and volunteers before training opens to the public in about a month. 

“They are succinct at telling us what is happening and breaking it down,” Oglesby said. “It’s like training for dummies. They just have a great way of making you understand. Hopefully it can get everybody started on the right page, lay a good foundation and then animals can live happily ever after in their forever homes.”

Andrews said their first priority is to provide care and enrichment for the dogs at the rescue and passing their knowledge to the staff and volunteers. 

"We will implement a lot of different enrichment and satiation programs with the dogs to keep them mentally healthier and happier, and more physically healthy," Andrews said. 

Oglesby said the trainers can take two to four dogs at a time into the new shaded areas for playgroups, giving dogs the opportunity to expend their energy while socializing. 

“It gives us that much more information for adopters,” Oglesby said. “We would know if they’re good with other dogs, or if they’re great with other dogs except for this situation.”

Oglesby, Andrews and Johnson are working to develop community outreach opportunities.

"We're hoping to kind of become a staple in the community as a place where people can go to when they're having issues or want to expand their relationship with their dog," Andrews said. "We hope to implement things like puppy playtime where people can bring their dogs in and play in a safe environment, and learn about dog behavior and training programs."

Oglesby and Andrews hope the teaching methods will result in dogs staying in their forever homes rather than being returned to a shelter. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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