The bequest was announced Christmas Day on the Carter County government website by Mayor Leon Humphrey. The mayor said many families in Carter County include their beloved pets in their Christmas celebration, counting them as part of the family. He said DeLawder has shown the same kind of love.
Humphrey said administrators of DeLawder’s bequest have bestowed $540,000 to be used by the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter to expand the dog and cat holding areas. That will allow more space for the cats and a place for dogs to play and run while their pens are cleaned and dried each day. Another portion of the gift to the animal shelter will be used to purchase a new van and convert it so that the vehicle can transport dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered.
“Carter County and the shelter are truly blessed and honored to be given such a tremendous gift, one of the largest private gifts ever given to the county for our citizens (human, feline and canine). Construction will begin on the shelter expansion on January 9. The van is scheduled to arrive by March 1,” Humphrey said.
According to DeLawder’s obituary, she was a 1961 graduate of Unaka High School and member of Dungan Chapel Baptist Church. She was the daughter of Carnie and Fay Taylor and the wife of Roy Chester DeLawder. She worked as a telephone operator for AT&T in Washington, D.C. She died on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.
The new room for cats will be a 1,002-square-foot masonry block addition to the shelter. It will also include 1,234 square feet of outdoor sidewalks and slabs. The addition will have a concrete floor and several heating and air conditioning units to meet different conditions and different air-quality requirements. The Elizabethton architectural firm of Reedy and Sykes designed the addition. The confirmed value of the project is $248,628.
The specs for the new van were for a new Ford Transit 350 with a high roof. The project calls for the van to be converted so that it can efficiently transport several dogs or cats.
DeLawder’s gift is certainly the largest but not the only gift made to the shelter recently. Susan Robinson, co-director of the shelter, said approximately $5,000 has been donated to the shelter to waive the fees for spaying and neutering during the Empty the Shelter pet adoption campaign, which continues until Jan. 2.
The normal cost of spaying and neutering is normally $35 for cats and $45 for dogs, but those fees are being waived during the campaign, thanks to the donations from other animal lovers. The fees will continue to be waived as long as donations continue to cover the cost.
In his Christmas announcement, Humphrey said the county is working with a national animal rescue organization. The hope is that the organization may open its Tennessee operations in Carter County, perhaps near the shelter.
In closing his announcement, Humphrey said “Mrs. DeLawder’s family asked me to share with you that she loved her cats and dogs so very much and wanted her love and care of them to be her everlasting gift. I think Mrs. DeLawder would be very pleased that her gift will be able to provide for future cats and dogs at the shelter for as long as the shelter exists.
“I want to personally thank Mrs. DeLawder and her family for their gift and thank each of you for your continued support of the shelter.”