After an exhaustive and sometimes frustrating search, the Payson Humane Society has finally secured a site for a new, state-of-the-art animal shelter.
The humane society closed escrow Friday morning on 2 acres of land immediately behind their present shelter at 812 S. McLane Road. The parcel is part of a 7-acre site currently occupied by Car & Truck Salvage.
Owner Leonard Little plans to have the site cleared of vehicles and parts sooner than the six months he has been given. When the new shelter will actually be built depends on how fast the necessary money can be raised.
"We couldn't get started on fund-raising or grants until we had property, because it's hard to say we're going to build somewhere someday, we're just not sure where or when," Kathe Stander, board member and building committee chairperson, said.
The new shelter will be more than 10,000 square feet and cost close to $2 million.
"It will be top-of-the-line in terms of soundproofing," Stander said. "We're working with Agate Steel (in Mesa). They do animal shelters all over the West, and they've got it down to a science."
All animals will be kept indoors.
"Everything will be under one roof, so there will be no open kennels like we currently have," Stander said. "It will be more efficient -- more energy efficient, more efficient for cleaning."
Features the current shelter, which occupies an old house, does not have include separate reception and office areas, a veterinary area, and a break room.
"In the kennel area, we'll have a food prep area, storage, an area where we can actually bathe the dogs, and isolation areas for cats, dogs, puppies, and injured dogs," Stander said. "We'll have a separate area for law enforcement to come in, and they'll have their own set of cages."
The humane society recently sold a half-acre parcel on Longhorn Road west of Highway 87 because it wasn't large enough to accommodate outside exercise areas.
"The exercise area is so important because all the dogs will be kept inside," Stander said. "They need 20 minutes a day outside in the sun to exercise."
Current plans are to make the exercise area similar to the dog park at Rumsey Park with two separate enclosures, one where shelter dogs can exercise and play:
"We know which dogs get along together, so groups of them will be taken out with somebody there to supervise," Stander said.
The other enclosure will be an area where prospective new owners can get to know the dog(s) they're thinking of adopting.
"It will be a place where you can bring your animals to meet the new one to see if they're going to get along," Larry Stubbs, humane society president, said.
The new shelter will also include separate parking areas for customers, employees and volunteers, and a separate recycling area for the aluminum cans program.
Once the Longhorn Road site was deemed inadequate, the shelter tried to purchase one of the Sky Park Industrial Park lots. Shortly after that failed, the town passed a stricter barking dog ordinance and pointedly failed to exempt the shelter.
In part because the shelter provides a service the town would otherwise have to provide itself, humane society officials said the town would be better served helping them find a new site rather than citing barking dogs.
The town did play an active role in helping the humane society secure the land, agreeing to buy another piece of the Car & Truck Salvage land.
"The town is in negotiation to purchase a portion of that property," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said. "We are purchasing a portion of it to get ahold of a portion of the (American) Gulch, to get some commercial property that later on can be sold. It's got a storage building on it that the water department can use."
After purchasing the new site from Little, the humane society still has about $500,000 to put towards the new facility. Stander hoped ground can be broken in 9-10 months and the facility can open six months thereafter, but it all depends on how long it takes to raise the remainder.
"A lot of people have expressed an interest in donating money to us once we knew we were going to have a building, and once they knew they weren't building it for the town of Payson," she said.
For more information or to donate, call Stander at (928) 468-6596.