BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Plywood, power tools, paint and people are the foundation of the Blount County Animal Welfare Society, also known as BCAWS

“We’re animal lovers and people who love their community and want to make a difference in the lives of outside dogs and cats,” Kristin Baksa said.

Baksa is the executive director of BCAWS. She said when the community realized there are too many outside dogs and cats in the county that don’t have proper shelter or spend their days tied up, they knew they had to act.

“If you’re going to do this for the community you’ve got to involve the community,” she said.

On any given weekend you’ll find volunteers like Jennifer Gregory building houses for dogs and cats and supporting their owners.

“Once they are painted and finished, we will fill them with a bed of straw,” said Gregory. “The door is made according to the size of the dog and it’s put in a specific place that maximizes the retention of the heat and cool.”

One of the houses they built recently is for Misty, a Husky-mix that spent most of her days on a run. Her new home will go in her family’s backyard, which is now enclosed by a chain link fence constructed by BCAWS volunteers. Misty now has room to roam.

Misty’s owners, Cindi Large and her grandson Braiden, said they are paying back the generosity by volunteering with BCAWS.

“It feels great and I’m just glad I’m out here helping,” said Braiden.

But BCAWS said they need more than man and woman power to keep providing the free houses and pet services.

“We can’t do it without the funds. A 10x10 kennel is $200,” said Baksa.

But she adds, there is nothing better than seeing a dog or cat in their new house so BCAWS will continue hammering home the need to protect our four legged friends.

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