Tuesday morning Sedalia philanthropist, and dog-lover, Sue Heckart, Heckart Family Foundation chairman, transferred the newly built Sedalia Animal Shelter to the City of Sedalia in a special ceremony.
The new shelter is funded mostly by the Heckart Family Foundation but includes a $50,000 donation from local resident and businesswoman Barbra Hayden and other small donations. It features a 7,423 square-foot facility, located at 2420 S. New York Ave.
The process of completing the new facility has taken approximately two years and will replace the smaller, dated, animal shelter on West Main Street. The new facility, sitting on five acres, will feature a total of 47 dog kennels with a capacity for 94 dogs along with 80 cat cages with an eventual capacity of 160 felines. The new shelter also has a visitation room where newly adopted pets can get-to-know their owners.
The east facing wall of the shelter’s entry way features a large photo tribute to Heckart and her Löwchens who are show dogs.
Before the ceremony began Heckart said she was relieved the project was completed.
“I’m a dog lover, and next to the (Heckart) Performing Arts Center, it will always be the crown jewel, but next to it, this is closest to my heart,” she noted. “It has to come from my heart.”
During the ceremony Heckart welcomed a large group of people that included state Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, state Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, city officials and dignitaries and local veterinarians.
Heckart recognized all the monetary donations and thanked Barbra Hayden for her donation and for the time she spent seeing the project through to completion.
She introduced state Sen. Parson who said he was honored to be at the facility.
“Over the years you see people step-up in their communities to make their communities better,” he said. “Those are the kind of people I think is, what we are all about in this town, in this country.”
He added that he and his wife, Teresa, have always supported local shelters and he encouraged those in attendance to support Sedalia’s new shelter.
“This is truly where things get done, is your hometown facilities,” he noted. “There was no doubt, when I came here for the groundbreaking ceremony … I knew it was going to be a first class operation when she got done with it. It’s important to take care of the ones who can’t take care of themselves.”
Heckart told the crowd that she “reflected on the journey.”
“Each of us has a journey in life, that is complex and challenging,” she noted. “Yet it is filled with deep satisfaction as we share with one another, care for others and love one another”
She added that the joys of her journey were the “moments.”
“For my actions to bring hope, love and opportunity to others,” she said.
Heckart stated that the Sedalia community has always brought “joy” to her and to her late parents Dale and Stella Heckart.
“My actions today are in memory of them, in honor of Sedalia, and to express my deep love for the dogs and cats who call Sedalia home,” she said. “I think every man, woman, child and animal should have a home or shelter … our hearts, just like animals, yearn for a safe place.
“The Sedalia Animal Shelter is and will be a place where dogs and cats feel absolutely safe,” she added. “Our community cares, shares and loves, and for me love is a four-legged word.”
After the presentation of the key to the facility to Mayor Stephen Galliher, he spoke to the crowd and proclaimed June 5, 2016, as Sue Heckart Day in the city of Sedalia.
“Everything Sue does, she does with her community at heart,” he noted. “Without Sue there are many things in this city that would not be accomplished. The city loves you as much as you love the city.”
After the ceremony, Sedalia veterinarian Dr. Clark Fobian DVM told the Democrat that the shelter was good for Sedalia.
“It’s a facility that very few communities have, especially those of Sedalia’s statute,” he noted.
Fobian attended the event with his wife Rita and their family dog Lazuli.
City Administrator Gary Edwards echoed Fobian’s sentiments saying the shelter was “state-of-the-art.” He expected the facility to open in approximately 30 days.
“We’re in process of bringing furniture in and things of that sort,” he noted. “We also have to bring in a computer line, there’s copper in already but we need the fiber. But, that will be a fairly short process.”
For the city of Sedalia, Edwards said this means the city is moving forward from a “facility that’s barely adequate” to one that will be a model for other cities in the state.
“At this point, it’s the best in the state,” he noted. “With all that is here, and that will be coming here, Sue Heckart has built a state-of the-art facility. Going from that to this is a dramatic change for the city of Sedalia. I anticipate we’ll have people coming here to to see this and other cities touring it.”
Sedalia Police Chief John DeGonia said the shelter will be beneficial to the animal control department also.
“This means the world to us,” he said. “The old shelter, we got new management in there and the shelter was always full. We couldn’t pick up any more because the shelter was full, which is a disservice to the animals.
“But once this shelter is up and running, it has more space so we’ll be able to help out more animals,” he added. “The city now has a place they can be proud of, this is beautiful and we’re going to keep it beautiful.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.