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FUTURE OPERATIONS: Rescue One plans to build a 14,000-square-foot operations center in northwest Springfield.
Provided by nForm Architecture LLC
FUTURE OPERATIONS: Rescue One plans to build a 14,000-square-foot operations center in northwest Springfield.

Rescue One buys land for $4M HQ

Nonprofit plans to launch capital campaign in 2022 for operations center

Posted online

Rescue One, a Springfield-based nonprofit that unites foster dogs and cats with permanent owners, is taking steps toward a multimillion-dollar new operations center.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which also offers medical services for rescues, has purchased a 4-acre parcel of land in northwest Springfield for the center’s future home.

Administrative Manager Rebekah Redwing said the cost was $160,000, with the total split between Rescue One and an anonymous donor.

Redwing said the planned 14,000-square-foot building at 3859 W. Nichols St. will include 17 dog boarding kennels for short-term stays, five community cat rooms, meet-and-greet areas for people to visit animals up for adoption, as well as space for offices, training and supply storage. A portion of the building will be dedicated to a 4,000-square-foot veterinary clinic, which will provide low-cost services for clients.

The building’s cost is estimated between $3.5 million and $4 million, she said.

She said finding a suitable space took around a year, as Rescue One officials considered renovating existing buildings, such as churches, before settling on the Nichols Street property.

“We always stayed inside city limits and tried to stay more on the north side just because it will have the low-cost community vet clinic,” she said. “That’s the area of town where more people would utilize it.”

A capital campaign is planned for early next year to develop the project located southwest of the Interstate 44 and West Bypass interchange.

“We don’t have a lot of details on that yet,” she said, noting the total to be sought in the campaign is still undetermined, as is how much Rescue One would contribute to it.

The organization in 2020 reported nearly $927,000 in revenue and net assets of over $342,000, according to its most recent IRS tax filing.

Redwing said nForm Architecture LLC is designing the center, which doesn’t have a general contractor yet. She said the project is estimated to take 10 months to complete but the timeline to start construction is still to be determined.

On the grow
Founded in 2013, Rescue One’s mission is “not only to rescue animals in need, but to also educate the public on responsible pet ownership and help provide low cost spay/neuter for those in need of assistance,” according to its website.

“We will never be a shelter because we don’t believe that is the way to educate people to overall reduce the number of animals that are being surrendered or dumped places and are being neglected,” Redwing said, noting the organization rescues without regard to breed, age or ease of placement. It also takes in animals daily for emergency situations.

The nonprofit depends on around 400 volunteers, Redwing said, but also has 13 paid employees, 10 of which are full-time positions. It’s led by Executive Director Stephanie Shelton and has a seven-person board of directors.

Since 2018, Rescue One has operated out of a 1,500-square-foot office at 1927 E. Bennett St., Ste. B. The location primarily serves to store pet supplies, but also includes temporary kennels for emergencies.

“A lot of people bring donations there or if they’re surrendering an animal, they’ll surrender them at the office,” she said.

As the need for animal care has increased, Rescue One added its first medical clinic in January 2020. Redwing said the nonprofit spent roughly $50,000 to open the Rescue One Medical Facility, which is located on South Stewart Avenue near the Glenstone Avenue and Sunshine Street intersection. The six-employee clinic headed by veterinarian Dr. Kelsey Keisker operates in 3,000 square feet of leased space. Because the clinic is only for internal use, it’s not open to the public, Redwing said.

Rising intake
Rescue One currently has nearly 250 animals in its care, she said, adding 150 of those are dogs and the remainder are cats. The organization has worked with more than 9,500 animals since it started, with over 1,900 of those in this year alone.

“In 2019, we had right around 1,400 intakes, and in 2020 we had almost 2,300,” she said. “There’s a lot of owner surrenders and a lot of emergency cases. Over the last couple of years, we’ve worked really hard to make a relationship with Greene County Sheriff’s [Office] and other agencies out in surrounding areas.”

Redwing and other local animal rescue agencies agree the coronavirus pandemic is a key contributor to the increase in owner surrenders.

“Our returns are up,” said Katie Newcomb, marketing manager at the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, declining to estimate a percentage increase. “At least part of that is because people are moving jobs or some people are going back to their jobs and no longer working from home. That really rocks an animal’s world when their new mom and dad are no longer there all the time – especially the younger ones.”

Newcomb said the local Humane Society’s animal intake was just under 3,000 last year.

“That’s pretty average as of lately for the last few years,” she said, adding 100 animals are currently available for adoption with another 173 remaining under the agency’s care.

It’s a similar situation for nonprofit cat rescue Watching Over Whiskers, said Executive Director Marci Bowling.

Bowling said the nonprofit has assisted over 6,000 felines since its founding in 2015. That includes almost 500 this year, resulting in placement of more than 300 in homes. The level of need is at an all-time high, she said.

To help meet the need, WOW opened a headquarters in January at 3014 E. Sunshine St., Ste. E, in the Southern Hills Shopping Center. Bowling is the lone paid employee for the organization, which she said typically has 40-60 volunteers.

“We have been over full since 2020 with not near enough volunteers and fosters to field the 30-40 daily requests we receive for help,” she said via email. 

Redwing is hopeful Rescue One’s record intake numbers will level off as the pandemic recedes. But getting the new facility funded and built will be a key to achieving the nonprofit’s ongoing mission, she said.

“We obviously want it done as soon as we can so we can start offering those resources to the community and saving more animals,” Redwing said.

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