Attendees gather around for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 31 at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce to kick off the C.A.R.E. Build It Campaign.

By Jordyn Kalman

The Critter Adoption & Rescue Effort Inc., or C.A.R.E., has started the ‘Build It Campaign’ to raise money to build a new shelter. It kicked off the campaign on May 31 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce, according to C.A.R.E. President Penny Smith.

Founded in 2000 on a three-acre property in Ruskin, C.A.R.E. is South County’s only nonprofit, no-kill shelter with a mission to reduce the number of homeless and abandoned animals through adoption, sterilization and education. It is run by 100 volunteers with no county, state or federal funding, Smith said.

After almost 20 years, the shelter has outgrown its current structure and needs a larger, more updated space to improve its efficiency. The new shelter will be four times the size of the current one and will cost an estimated three million dollars to complete.

So far, the campaign has raised 500 dollars in donations from the public.

C.A.R.E. has partnered with Bacon Group Architecture to create design plans for the new facility, which will include kennels, cat rooms, a cat ICU, a food preparation area, an isolated space for new arrivals and a surgery and treatment room for on-sight spay and neuter procedures. They plan to build on the same land the current facility is on.

“This project is going to take a long time to complete,” Smith said. “There is a lot of preparation work that needs to be done and money that needs to be raised before we can even break ground.”

Building a new facility is important to C.A.R.E. because it will help the public become more aware of the services it provides and enables more animals to get adopted quicker.

“Even though we’ve been here for 20 years, most people don’t have any idea where we are, what we do or that we exist,” Smith said. “So, part of what we’re doing with this project is creating public awareness.”

Having a larger facility with the ability to house more animals at a time will also help C.A.R.E. deal with the increase in animal populations on the streets.

“There is a huge animal population growth problem in South County,” Smith said.

C.A.R.E. is located at 1528 27th St. S.E. in Ruskin. For more information, call 645-2273 or visit https://careshelter.org/.