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GCHS: New push for shelter funding

By Staff | Aug 18, 2016

The Gulf Coast Humane Society decided it will give up its pursuit for a satellite shelter in Cape Coral after not being able to raise enough money to build one.

Now, members of the community are taking up the fight to make the dream of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter a reality.

Joanne Elardo owner of Wicked Dolphin Rum, has filed paperwork for a non-profit organization whose goal will be to get the resources needed to build the facility, and she has enlisted some of the city’s biggest movers and shakers to help, many of whom were on board with the Humane Society.

“It got to a point where the Humane Society couldn’t focus on the Cape and keep the other shelter going. It wasn’t working out. That’s why we moved on and decided to go a different direction,” Elardo said. “We have a lot of people that want to continue with this and a lot who are willing to donate money.”

More than 100 people have already signed up for her committee, headed up by Elardo and other business leaders, including Gloria Tate of Raso Realty, who also worked on events for the Humane Society.

Elardo said in a city of 180,000, there is a desperate need for a shelter in Cape Coral. Right now, there’s only the Humane Society’s Fort Myers shelter, Lee County Animal Control and the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers for people to go.

“We need to have that shelter. We need to educate people on spay and neutering and a place to adopt out pets and help the other communities,” Elardo said. “We’re all dedicated to this and this is my calling.”

Tate said she believes the generosity of the community will once again prevail, as it has for decades, in getting the shelter up and running.

“We have residents with a huge heart. Many of them have passions for animals and didn’t know we were doing this for Gulf Coast. Residents have been hearing about the shelter and coming forward to help,” Tate said. “I think we’re going to have a large base to choose from.”

Tate said the group will do everything from small fundraisers to large capital events. Pam Aubuchon, another board member, said the group has the talent to make it happen.

“There are a lot of positive people behind this. We have the support of the city and I’m happy to be part of this and I’m happy we’re doing it,” Aubuchon said.

The Humane Society had planned to build a 4.2-acre shelter near SunSplash Family Water Park but was only able to raise about $150,000 of the $2 million it needed to build the facility.

The Humane Society will concentrate on its other programs such as fostering animals, and this week it has taken on the task of aiding in the rescue of animals from flood-ravaged Louisiana.

Jennifer Galloway, president of the Gulf Coast Humane Society, was unavailable for comment.

The city understands the need for a shelter, which is why it is willing to do whatever if needs to make that happen.

“We recognize the city needs this type of service. We’re the 10th-largest city in the state. We are certainly going to support the efforts of the group to make this shelter a reality,” said city spokesperson Connie Barron.