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Years in the making, animal shelter opens
Local veterinarians Lanier Orr, left, and John McGruder chat during the grand opening event. Orr provided the county’s previous animal shelter for 35 years, while McGruder served as chairman of the committee that oversaw the process of developing the new facility. - photo by Crystal Ledford

NORTH FORSYTH — Local leaders joined with animal rescue groups Friday to celebrate the opening of Forsyth County’s new animal shelter.

During a ribbon cutting event at 3 p.m., animal shelter manager Chris Peninger thanked everyone who had been a part of the creation of the new 13,700-square-foot facility on County Way in north Forsyth.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are today as we officially open this brand-new facility,” she said.

“The mission of the Forsyth County Animal Shelter is to provide responsive, efficient and high-quality animal care and control services, to preserve and protect animals and public safety and to maximize the placement of adoptable animals.”

County Commission Chairman Pete Amos called the opening of the modern facility, which was funded by 1-cent sales tax revenue, “another step forward” for Forsyth.

“Every great county needs a great animal shelter and I think we have one here today thanks to the voters,” he said.

Amos also thanked Lanier Orr, a longtime veterinarian who for the past 35 years has operated the county’s previous shelter in a small building next door to his south Forsyth practice.

“Dr. Orr, we’re just so glad you’re here today,” said Amos, noting that he was sorry Orr’s wife, Annette, who handled much of the shelter operation, couldn’t attend due to an illness.

“There’s no way we can thank you enough as a county. Dr. Orr has taken care of our animals for years and he has continued to take care of the animals while we’ve been building this shelter here. It was not a beautiful job to have, but he always stepped forward and helped the county out in an inexpensive way that the county could afford.”

Orr was pleased to see the facility completed since it will allow so many more animals to be sheltered.

“It’s a good day for us and the county both,” said Orr, who has been a local vet since 1969. “We’ve been at it a long time and it’s time we had an upgrade.

“We’re tickled to death. We’ve worked hard and it’s been a long road, but this will be great for the county.”

Another longtime local veterinarian John McGruder, who served as chairman of a committee that guided the process of creating the new shelter, also attended Friday’s event.

Despite some construction delays due to an unseasonably wet summer in 2013, he said the project was built at “just a few thousand dollars over the $3 million budget.”

McGruder, Orr and Ann-Margaret Johnston, chair of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, also encouraged residents to get involved with an organization called Friends of the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Johnston said the primary functions of the Friends group will be to provide education, raise awareness, promote adoption and fundraise for additional items not covered by the shelter’s county-funded budget.

The new shelter will be able to house 100 to 200 cats and dogs, which will be available for the public to adopt, at a time.

All incoming animals will receive several vaccinations on site, and a veterinarian will be available to care for them.

The shelter’s hours for adoptions will be 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The hours to drop off or reclaim an animal will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.