Visiting volunteers help upgrade Summit County Animal Shelter |

Visiting volunteers help upgrade Summit County Animal Shelter

Kathryn Corazzelli
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Wednesday morning, a woman sporting a white T-shirt and red visor helped dig a hole for a new tree outside the entrance to the Summit County Animal Shelter. The back of her shirt read: “My goal in life is to be as good of a person my pet already thinks I am.”

The woman was one of 250 volunteers from Royal Canin, a pet food company based in Missouri, who flooded the shelter in Frisco Wednesday to assist in a facility makeover. The renovation was the “fun day” for the group’s members, who are staying at Keystone Resort this week for their corporate retreat, and wanted to do something to give back to the community.

The project included an array of outdoor landscaping projects – like tree planting, xeriscaping, perimeter drains and walking paths – new paint and shelving inside the building, new picnic tables, benches and bike rack, and the rebuilding of the two outdoor dog pens.

Royal Canin funded the renovation, and provided more than 2,000 free man-hours toward the project.

“We’re trying to help out and make this wonderful facility as best we can for the dogs and cats,” said Harvey Millar, director of Royal Canin’s retail business. Millar was busy Wednesday working on landscaping. “Rather than just do, as part of our national meeting, a team-building exercise or golf day, we really wanted to give back to the community in a particular way that benefited dogs and cats.”

General manager Joe Flanigan said the company started performing community service as part of its national sales meetings three years ago. The days are great for employee team-building, he said, and give the company an opportunity to give back to whatever community they’re staying in. Flanigan surprised employees Tuesday night with the news of what they would be doing Wednesday.

“It brought tears to all of our associates’ eyes last night when they all found out,” he said. “Being that we’re an animal first company, it was time to do something for the pets.”

CBST Adventures, an event planning company in Silverthorne, helped Royal Canin plan its trip and suggested the animal shelter for its philanthropic efforts.

“(The shelter) really needed the help,” said Mark Hojegian, project manager at CBST. “Basically a lot of the projects that these folks are working on are things that the current county budget does not support because of cutbacks.”

Hojegian said the project inspired numerous local businesses and organizations to contribute volunteer hours and donations, which helped make it “a dynamic community event.”

One of the most impactful projects of the day was the rebuilding of the outdoor dog pens, which were in dire need of maintenance and expansion. Lesley Hall, director of the county’s animal control and shelter, said dogs were digging holes in the dirt bottom of the lower pen, and some animals were able to climb up the sides. The upper pen, which was constructed partly of cedar, was being chewed on, and the gates weren’t closing well. Both pens were given gravel and rock bottoms to prevent digging, expanded and improved so animals can’t escape.

“It’s going to increase our ability to have more dogs out at one time, as well as help with their socialization,” Hall said.

The news that 250 volunteers wanted to help the shelter was “overwhelming” at first, but Hall said everyone at the shelter is excited to see the improvements getting done. The work will not only enhance the shelter’s ability to care for the animals, but make it more attractive for the general public, she said.

“I feel fortunate that the Summit County Animal Shelter has been chosen for this project,” she said. “It is a great opportunity for the county to make improvements that would not be possible under our current budget and manpower constraints. I’d like to thank all the people who participated.”

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