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Here's what Furkids' new Forsyth County headquarters looks like
Furkids, a nonprofit animal shelter and rescue organization, unveiled its new Forsyth County headquarters Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, on Union Hill Road. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Though the weather was cold and rainy on Saturday, it did little to diminish the excitement as an animal rescue organization showed off its new south Forsyth home.

On Saturday, officials with Furkids Animal Rescue & Shelters hosted an open house of their headquarters and cat shelter at 5235 Union Hill Road. Located at the former Wakoola Water Gardens, the nine-acre property will soon be available for volunteering and adopting furry friends.

“Today is just a causal open house where we’ve invited the community to come take a look at the property here that is going to be the future home of Furkids,” said Samantha Shelton, founder and CEO of the organization. “We have invited the community to come out and just take a look at the gardens, meet some adoptable cats and dogs and just to know our team. We’re encouraging the community to get involved with us and volunteer.”

Founded in 2002, Furkids is currently headquartered in Doraville, but the organization is working quickly to get their new home up and running.

“We will have moved our cat shelter operation into this location by the end of 2019. By the end of this year, we will have moved our adoptable cats over and our medical team,” Shelton said.

Shelton said Furkids has had a footprint in Forsyth County since 2011 when it overtook Small Dog Rescue a few miles down Union Hill Road.

The new facility features ponds, waterfalls, walking trails and spaces for outdoor events, while the building will be used to also host events, provide spaces for volunteering and have adoptions for dogs and cats.

Shelton said the property was “like it was made for us.”

“I instantly fell in love. The day I came out, it was raining, harder than it is raining now, and I remember thinking, ‘I really don’t want to go look at nine acres in the rain,’” she said, “but this is not nine acres of dirt. This is nine acres of developed, beautiful water gardens that someone back in the day invested a lot of money and time and love into this property.”

The organization recently applied for a conditional-use permit with the county to build a veterinary clinic, kennels with outdoor facilities, a residence for a caretaker or night watchman and event venue with 103 parking spaces, which is currently going through the county process.

Furkids has already partnered with some local schools and is looking for more local volunteers to get involved at the new center.

“We are looking for the local community to receive us and to be excited about us being here and to see us really as a blessing to the community,” Shelton said. “We’ve invested a lot of time and money into restoring the building, just the exterior, and providing volunteer opportunities, and we just want to continue to grow on that. We want the community to think of us as a valuable partner here.”