Eleven years ago, Williamson County Realtor Holly Shelton adopted her adorable yellow lab, Charlie, from the Williamson County Animal Center.

Now, she has found a unique way to give back to that same organization.

For every house that Shelton closes, she’s donating $350 to the WCAC in the name of her client. She is calling this new endeavor the Good Dog Project and hopes to not only be able to make two donations a month, which adds up to $8,400 a year, but also inspire other agents to take the initiative to give back to whatever cause is close to their heart.

“I just wanted to find a way to give back to my community,” Shelton says. “Whatever you are passionate about, figure out a way to make that part of your way to give back to the community.”

When she was looking for a way to give back to the shelter, Shelton worked with shelter Director Ondrea Johnson to come up with the perfect donation amount. As it turns out, $350 is how much it costs the shelter to care for each dog from intake to adoption.

“That amount of money covers all of their care, from the veterinary staff that will spay or neuter them, the staff that will clean their kennels, feed them and walk the dog to their play group,” Johnson says. “All of those things go into the care of the animal and help make them adoptable.”

All dogs at WCAC get a rabies shot and all intake vaccines, a de-wormer and heartworm preventative.

“If it’s with us more than 30 days, it will get boosters,” Johnson says. “They are all heartworm tested.

“When you walk out with an animal from the shelter, you are getting quite a bargain. Dogs over 1 year old are $50, and they don’t need any significant vetting for a year. That all adds up. It’s about $350 to get that dog from start to finish.”

The center is just weeks away from moving into its brand-new, 35,000-square-foot facility that features new kenneling areas with natural light, a public education center, indoor training room and a state-of-the-art ventilation system.

“The whole center is designed so that we can interact with the community on a different level,” Johnson says. “The old way of sheltering was just having a place for strays. We are hoping to be more of a partner to the community throughout all stages of pet ownership.”

The new facility will also have a spay and neuter clinic that will offer low-cost and free spay and neutering for any cats or dogs — not just pets adopted through the center. And thanks to a private individual donor who pledged $1 million, the cost of the part-time veterinarian and two vet techs is covered for the next 10 years.

Johnson hopes to move into the new facility at the end of the year and open to the public by the end of January or beginning of February.

In the meantime, the staff at the adoption center is gearing up for its annual Operation Silent Night program, where they work to get every adoptable pet out of the building for the holidays. The plan is for fosters to pick up their animal on Dec. 24 and bring it back Jan. 4 to the new facility.

“The thing about a holiday foster is it’s a short-term commitment to the animal,” Johnson says.

“It’s not sad to bring them back. It gives them a break. We ask fosters to take lots of photos and videos of how the animal is in the home. We use that to make an ad that we hang on their kennel, and it really helps them get adopted more quickly.”

She says the Operation Silent Night program is typically pretty successful, and about 30% of the animals end up being adopted permanently.

To make a donation or sign up to be a holiday foster as part of the Operation Silent Nights program, visit the Williamson County Animal Center’s web site at www.adoptwcac.org.

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