College students raise donations for new Sevier County animal shelter

GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Sevier County Humane Society has recently returned to its original location since November’s tragic wildfires, but the building they are operating out of in Gatlinburg is not their forever home. Extensive damage from smoke and tight space mean they are in need of a new place to house animals.

A group of students from the University of Tennessee created Project Build a Shelter to help. The classmates were given an assignment by their teacher to pick a non-profit and raise donations. They chose Sevier County Humane Society because of their loved for animals.

It’s been a stressful couple of months for the various animals at SCHS. Many were evacuated during the wildfires, temporarily relocated to the Sevier County Fairgrounds, and then forced to move back to their previous location. Now their current shelter is rendered unsafe.

More online: Donate to Project Build a Shelter

“They really need to get out of where they’re at as soon as possible,” said Chloe Padilla with Project Build a Shelter. “Once we heard the story about how they would need a whole new shelter, we felt that we needed to pitch in.”

Project Build a Shelter started on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise money. Over a million dollars is needed for a new shelter, but the classmates from UT are aiming to achieve a smaller goal first.

“We are personally trying to help raise money to build one of the walls, which will be approximately about $2,500,” said Padilla.

Previous story: Sevier County Humane Society building reopens after wildfires

As of Friday, about a thousand dollars has been pledged, but more donations are needed.

Padilla adds, “Everything that we’re doing is going to help the animals.”

The current shelter’s maximum capacity allows for about 1,000 animals. However, just in the last couple of months, staff has taken in more than triple that amount.

“They had to spend so much just taking care of all the animals that came in right after the Gatlinburg wildfires, that they had to start from scratch,” said Padilla.

The humane society hopes to begin construction within the year, but it all depends on how much funds are available for a new shelter to be built. The new facility is planned to be located off of Newport Highway. About $300,000 is set aside for the shelter, but that will not cover the full cost.

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