Tri County Humane Society gets new name, will open new shelter
By Dale King / June 1, 2014
July of 2001 was a pivotal month for the Tri County Humane Society in Boca Raton, a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter and rescue facility that continues to serve Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
During that month, the Boca Raton City Council signed a pact allowing Tri County, founded four years earlier by Jeannette Christos and Suzi Goldsmith, to take over operations of the city-operated animal shelter on Boca Rio Road just west of Florida's Turnpike.
The takeover was good. It gave Tri County a facility where it could house, feed, care for and provide medical services for abandoned and neglected animals. And with Tri County now running the show, Boca Raton was able to save $500,000 in its annual budget.
Ratchet forward 13 years and Tri County is again at a pivotal point. Just months after changing its name to Tri County Animal Rescue (TCAR) and changing its logo to a more dynamic, red, orange and yellow symbol, the organization that survives mainly on donations and fund-raising efforts is looking to construct a new building.
"We're moving forward quickly with zoning and permitting and hope to put shovels in the ground by July," said Goldsmith, now the executive director.
The name change, launch of the new logo and kickoff of a $2 million capital campaign were announced at the 12th annual "Doggie Ball" held in March at Boca West Country Club. The event is the non-profit's major annual fund-raiser, normally bringing in a half-million dollars or more.
Plans call for construction of a "9,000-square-foot building at the Boca Rio Road complex which will serve as a receiving and temporary isolation center until animals are cleared health-wise by vets and can be placed in the general population for adoption," said Goldsmith.
"We have been living out of trailers -- to some degree, temporary facilities," said TCAR Board Chairwoman Harriet Lewis-Mooney. "This building is only the beginning, and is much needed."
She said a number of "naming opportunities are available. You can name a run, you can name a leash or a brick. We look forward to someone contributing a large donation for the right to name the building."
Actually, Lullis Mae Ritter and her philanthropist husband, Rolland, founded the Boca Raton Humane Society in the 1970s. In 1987, they donated the shelter building along with attached dog runs, a pet cemetery and nine acres of land to the community.
The city later took over the building and operated it as an animal shelter, but by the early 2000s, city officials received many complaints about the quality of care. The City Council chose Tri County from two applicants to run the operation. Christos became the on-site director and ran the shelter until her death in 2011.
At the 2014 Doggie Ball, the first annual award named in Christos' honor and memory was presented to Sharon DiPietro, a long-time shelter supporter.
The new name, said Goldsmith, "more accurately describes Tri County's mission to not just accept surrendered dogs and cats, but to go out and get them. The reason we're different from other shelters is that we're a hands-on rescue and we have no boundaries. Anywhere there's a need for us, we will go."
Tri County has sent volunteers to rescue animals from disaster areas around the nation such as New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Workers also fan out to remove hurting dogs from puppy mills in Florida and other states.
"When news hit of the Oklahoma tornadoes," said Goldsmith, "Tri County deployed five employees and two vans to the Moore, Okla., area where 200 dogs and cats were being held in various shelters to make room for displaced animals from the tornado devastation. They brought back 81 dogs and cats, and all but one have been adopted."
This past March, Tri County partnered with the all-volunteer Pilot for Paws organization to rescue by plane 18 abandoned puppies and dogs from the Bahamas.
Lewis-Mooney explained that the new logo design "is a dramatic departure from the rescue organization's previous branding mark that featured an umbrella and a variety of animals, including ducks, bunnies, hamsters and birds that are not rescued by Tri County for adoption." The logo was created in-house by Amanda Chussler, assistant to Goldsmith. The director also had a hand in the redesigned graphic.
Tri County is a private shelter, said Goldsmith, and not part of local, county or state government. For information, visit www.tricountyhumane.org
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