After Tom Paris Jr. died in November 2018, the staff at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia knew they had to fulfill his vision of revamping the nonprofit’s surgery suite.
Julie Edwards, the director of the Humane Society, said Paris was a huge philanthropist and served on the organization’s board for nine years.
“He really helped forward us as an organization,” Edwards said. “He was very passionate about spay and neuter and he started the ball rolling with this. I hate that he’s not going to see it.”
Paris’ wife, Alice, wanted to honor her husband’s memory by making a signature gift pledge to the Humane Society to begin remodeling the surgery suite.
Edwards said she took the pledge and leveraged it at the nonprofit’s gala in February 2019. The people who attended exceeded the match amount with donations. The total among the pledge and fundraiser ended up coming out at $90,000.
Between then and now, Edwards said the organization has gathered around two-thirds of the amount needed to upgrade the surgery suite and laundry room.
Construction for the improvements started on Monday, Sep. 9.
The surgery suite’s remodeling will cost $171,000 in addition to $28,000 for new equipment.
The area hasn’t been remodeled since it opened 14 years ago. Edwards said the surgery suite used to be where animals were euthanized.
The team of two veterinarians and 10 veterinary technicians have made do with the space, performing 30-35 spay and neuter surgeries, four days a week.
“In that room we’ve done 80,000 plus surgeries,” Edwards said. “No animal is ever at risk, but it can always be better as far as the flow.”
The surgery room will now have a larger doorway for veterinarians to transport animals in and out with ease.
A tilting surgery table will be added, which will allow veterinarians to operate on dogs over 100 pounds. Before, Edwards said the staff didn’t operate on animals over a certain weight because they couldn’t maneuver them on the table.
The organization will also purchase a wet table with the donations, which is used for surgery preparations and procedures that require water like dental surgery.
Edwards said $16,000 of the surgery suite equipment cost will go toward purchasing four surgical lights with ceiling mounts.
Staff members will also receive a scrub sink that’s knee-activated to eliminate having to touch the faucet before and after operations.
“Everything is going to be brand new,” Edwards said. ‘It’s going to the latest and greatest that we can afford. The space will have an incredible impact and allow them to be much more efficient.”
The nonprofit plans to use $68,000 of the donations for the construction of its laundry room and $27,000 for two new commercial washers and one commercial dryer.
The building currently has two residential washers and one commercial dryer, which run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
“The amount of laundry is enormous and ridiculous,” Edwards said. “If we get behind for one day, it’s flowing out into the hall.”
Edwards expects the project to be finished in four to six weeks. The organization will rename it in honor of Paris.
The Humane Society is still accepting donations to help fund the renovations. To make a contribution call 770-532-6617 or visit humanesocietyofnortheastgeorgia.org.