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Cape shelter on track for 2018

By Staff | Dec 28, 2017

A series of events caused delays in construction of the proposed Cape Coral Animal Shelter, but plans continue to move along with organizers hoping to break ground as early as this spring.

“We are hoping construction will start in April of 2018,” said JoAnn Elardo, board president of the non-profit Cape Coral Animal Shelter. “We are still working to find builders, plumbers, electricians, masons, etc., to help us.”

The location will be in the mid-Cape at 324 SW 2nd Ave., near Sun Splash Family Water Park.

The idea to have a no-kill animal shelter in the largest city between Tampa and Miami began when Elardo wondered, “Why not have one?”

“Years ago, I was donating to a few local shelters and I could not understand why a city as large as Cape Coral did not have one,” Elardo said. “It made no sense. After talking with friends and people I knew in the business community, we all felt it was time to get this done.

“There is a large need for a shelter and our shelter will take a dent out of some of the problems we have in (Southwest Florida) with over-population, education and adoption.”

So, Elardo and others teamed with a local shelter whose officials said they wanted to open a shelter in the city.

“We worked hard and raised money for them for at least two years. When we said: ‘It’s time, we need to start a capital campaign,’ they quickly decided not to finish what we had started,” she said.

“It’s funny. One of the excuses that was used on why we could not start the Cape shelter was the people in the Cape just don’t donate,” she said. “We never believed that and have proven that untrue.”

Instead of being put off, Elardo doubled-down. She started from scratch after the previous two years of hard work.

A capital campaign has been ongoing and so far organizers have, through pledges and monetary donations, raised $1.4 million of the estimated $2.2 million needed to construct the facility.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to become a founding member fo the shelter,” Elardo said referring to the capital campaign. “They will be able to have their or their family’s name on the shelter. It’s a nice legacy that you can leave your children and grandchildren.”

The City of Cape Coral also is onboard with having an animal shelter, said Connie Barron, city’ spokesperson. “We are working with them through the permitting process. In fact, the city has agreed to assume the costs associated with the permitting estimated to be $71,374.”

Cape Coral officials also leased a 4.2-acre parcel to the Cape Coral Animal Shelter. The lease has been signed.

“We are leasing the land to them for $1 per year with a 99-year lease. The property needs to be rezoned to the appropriate zoning district,” Barron said. “CCAS will be submitting an application for the rezoning.”

Elardo said city officials have met with the shelter board many times and have been helpful in working out any needs.

The shelter will have many benefits for the residents.

“This will be a great resource for the community,” she said. “There are so many benefits to name – save animals, adoption, low cost medical help and more.”

Barron agrees.

“This shelter will provide a much-needed service to the Cape Coral community. The city is excited about partnering with the Cape Coral Animal Shelter to build a facility for the cats and dogs needing care and refuge.”

The shelter will be licensed through the state and also have a medical license. At this time, there are no plans to accept any animals other than dogs and cats.

Residents and visitors can show their support for the shelter by attending some upcoming events to help raise funds.

The first one, Heroes and Hounds, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 6, at Sun Splash Family Waterpark, 400 Santa Barbara Blvd. Admission is free. Sip and Send, has partnered with the Cape Coral Police Athletic League which sponsors the Gulf Coast K-9 competition.

Proceeds from the event, which is a dog friendly, family festival, will benefit the proposed shelter in addition to Holiday 4 Heroes and the Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Paws for Patriots.

Heroes and Hounds features a K-9 exposition and competition, the Calendar Girls, who dance to provide money for service dogs and training to veterans, a chili cook-off, best pie, pie-eating contest, a home brew contest, food and beverage trucks and raffle prizes. Children games and activies will be offered, according to information provided on the Sip and Send website.

Then at 7 p.m. March 10, Wicked Dolphin’s Decades Party will begin. “The 60s,” event which typically sells out, provides music, drinks, food, raffles, adult games and more. Elardo owns the Wicked Dolphin.

“It’s one of our biggest and funniest events of the year,” she said.

What is most impacting, Elardo says, volunteers already are rallying behind the proposed shelter.

“It will take a community to build this shelter and we appreciate all the help from our volunteers. They work countless hours at events, running those events and getting donations.

“I hope when you see them, you thank them for working hard. This is what is getting this done. Thank you to all in the community who have donated and helped us. This will be a shelter to make you proud.”

To donate:


or call 239-800-9752.