The Hamblen County Humane Society Animal Shelter has moved into a spacious, modern shelter location at 5251 East Morris Boulevard in Morristown, the former Shelby Williams Union Hall.

“Being here has opened up a more positive environment,” Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society Director Misty Kirk said. “Having a new, clean space and being in a whole different part of town has allowed a different vibe to be here with people wanting to come out to volunteer, to be engaged, and wanting to adopt, and give monetarily. This has been a great adventure. I’m loving it!”

With modern facilities come better opportunities.

The new shelter has 21 larger kennels for big breed dogs equipped with guillotine doors so they can run inside and outside. The fenced-in kennels for cats have a capacity of 100.

“This lets our dogs be inside the building or outside,” Kirk said. “There is a concrete block wall between the inside and outside. The kennels are covered and locked on each side.”

Kirk said that the animals are secured at all times from unsafe environments.

There are also 20 stainless steel cages for small breed dogs and cats, 45 pounds and under. The great things about both of these environments is that the shelter has two fenced-in running areas for animal enrichment programs.

Unlike many humane society facilities in the Lakeway Area, Hamblen County still has an animal control officer.

“We’re very fortunate to have an animal patrol officer,” Kirk said.

“The cleanliness that I have set the expectations for are high, along with safety measures,” Kirk said.

The reunion of a computer-chipped dog with his original Orlando, Florida owner last fall helped to increase conversation about installation of computer chips in dogs, according to Kirk.

“We have seen more people talk about getting their dogs microchipped since that story came out,” she said.

There are two fenced-in running areas that the dogs can be introduced to each other, a feature the old shelter didn’t have due to its limited space.

“We hadn’t been able to do it before because we didn’t have an area to contain it,” she said. “With that, we’re able to do more enrichments, including two circle paths to walk dogs. We’re going to continue to work on that, plant some different scented plants to help with sensory skills. Hopefully they’re not here long enough to worry about that.”

An indoor play area is also used when the weather is inclement or rainy.

“We place ourselves in all four corners of the hall, we let the dogs do laps around the building inside the building. Three laps around there, they’re looking for their kennel,” Kirk said. “After about a couple of hours of doing that, the staff is ready for a nap.”

A second phase is planned in the future for more big dog kennels, and storage facilities. It is unknown if the storage will be a “yard barn” style building or another building.

A birthing room is also in the plans for the future.

“We have had a dog that came in and didn’t know it was pregnant until it happened,” Kirk said. “Sometimes when it happens, you need an area for that.”

Spay and neuter services will be offered at least one time a month for a minimal price.

“We set up the appointments, give the pricing to you and the details,” Kirk said. “You work with the veterinarian in the parking lot area. It’s great, low-cost and worth it. We really need to get animal control. Spay and neuter is so much (more practical) than seeing the kittens and puppies on the side of the road.”

The new shelter replaces a shelter on Dice Street that has been in operation since the 1970s. There have been several people who didn’t know that the shelter had moved trying to drop off items at the old location, Kirk said.

“We’ve had some people to bring some food, paper and a dog dropped off there. We’re here now,” she said. “It has been so busy, we’ve been meeting so many new people. That’s what I’m loving!”