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New pet adoption center opens
New Shelter 3 - Willson Family
C-I Web Extra: The Willson family, of Camden, gets a tour of the new dog kennels at the Thiel-Meyer Adoption Center during a grand opening celebration Saturday as Bryson shows off one of the shelters dogs. To the rear are additional pens which will be used as more animals are brought over from the old shelter on Fair Street. - photo by Martin L. Cahn

It took a little time, thanks to an extra bout of rain Saturday, but dozens of people showed up for the grand opening of the new Thiel-Mayer Adoption Center on Black River Road in Camden. The rain -- not a welcome sight for those who had already lived through the flooding downpours several days earlier -- forced many outdoor activities inside.

That didn’t seem to bother the dogs and cats at the shelter waiting for new homes, nor the dozens of children and their families who showed up to take a look around and, perhaps, pick a new addition to take with them.

The building once housed a Coca-Cola bottling plant, but you wouldn’t know it: bright and cheery on the inside with lots of open space. The lobby is named for long-time supporter and Kershaw County Humane Society member Sue Sensor. To the right is a large waiting room; to the left, kitten and cat pens. Down the hall, intersections branch off to offices and examination rooms.

And then there’s Stewart and Jasper. Stewart is a large albino rat; Japser is a dark, fluffy kitten. There are housed together at the end of the main hallways, playing a kind of tag when they’re not being picked up and petted.

A nearby “thud” announces what looks like a giant beagle jumping up to a window looking out from the nearby dog kennel. It’s Trixie, and visitors can see through her and another dog’s kennel into the kennel room itself. All the cat and dog pens -- except for stainless steel ones in a nearby quarantine area -- are made with Plexiglass like windows, walls and doors.

Employee Stacey Bryson, leading a large family group through the center, shows off other areas, including one for animals who aren’t quite ready for adoption. Future plans include outdoor pens to assist her with socializing rescued animals.

As of Saturday, Bryson said, there were still some animals at the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter. Eventually, she said, they would be moved to Thiel-Meyer and Crowe will be closed.

Center Director Sharon Jones said the new facility houses about the same number of animals as Crowe did, but more comfortably and healthily.

And, she said, all the pens, kennels and other equipment are new, paid for by the humane society through its various fundraising efforts.

“It took us four to five years to raise the money,” Jones said.

Pictures, furniture and other items were all donated, Jones said. A sale will be held for old items at the former shelter on Fair Street.

Looking around, Jones simply said, “It’s wonderful.”