Design Plans For New Animal Shelter Show A 14,500-Square-Foot Building

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The Payson Humane Society has hired Shelter Planners of America to help design a new animal shelter.

Humane society officials said the building of a new shelter is the second most important project in their 35-year existence, the first being the daily job of finding homes for the lost and abandoned animals of Rim Country.

Several months ago, humane society officials contracted with Shelter Planners of America to design the new shelter.

They are the premier designers of shelters in the nation, having designed more than 700 of them, officials said.

The designers spent a day touring the current shelter and assessing the two acres of paid-for land behind the current facility. They also looked at the anticipated growth of the community during the next 30 years, and the humane society's requirements for a new building, and they presented a preliminary plan.

"We have thoroughly reviewed it to make sure it represents everything our animals need," officials said.

A Phoenix-based architectural firm has been hired to provide the final construction drawings. Schematic drawings will be presented to the many town entities and committees such as planning and zoning, utilities, Green Valley Redevelopment, and town design for approval.

This will occur between early April and late May. Upon approval from those various entities, the architect will proceed with the final construction documents. Shelter Planners of America will oversee this. It is estimated that the final documents will be submitted to the Payson building department in August.

Amon Builders has been hired to build the shelter. They will be involved with all these steps. Shelter Planners of America will also be on hand to oversee the construction. If all goes as planned, construction should begin in late September, with a move-in date of May, 2009.

The plan shows a building of 14,500-square-foot, which is more than twice the size of the current facility. This will accommodate twice the number of animals we currently handle each year, which is about 1,700. The building contains long-wished-for amenities, such as a surgical suite which will allow us to offer low-cost spay-neuter clinics to the public.

There will be an area where educational programs can be conducted. Having experienced the huge difference exercise yards make for our dogs, we made sure there are several dog exercise areas in the plans. Cats will have screened-in exercise areas. There will be several get-acquainted and interview rooms to allow better facilitation of adoptions.

The new facility will be attractive; a pleasant addition to the Green Valley Redevelopment project, officials said.

Although it is the latest thing in shelters, a courtyard open to the dog kennels was rejected in deference to providing a quiet atmosphere to the neighbors in the area. This added more than 3,500 square feet to the building and about $700,000 to the cost.

This shelter will not be a Taj Mahal, except where the animals are concerned. To make sure they are kept healthy and comfortable the best state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings for cleaning and housing animals that the budget will allow will be used.

The ratio of space in the shelter is 80 percent animal-related to 20 percent people-related. The space allotted to staff and visitors will be attractive and efficient.

To assist in raising the funds for the project, the humane society has hired a capital campaign consultant firm to conduct a feasibility study for us. They interviewed more than 20 residents of Rim Country representing all walks of life.

The result was very positive feedback about Payson Humane Society, what the organizations does, how important it is to the community, and how badly a new shelter is needed.

It was this company's conclusion that the funds can be raised in the community, society officials said.

"We are working on a strategic fund-raising campaign that will get our story out there and engage the community in this exciting project. Naming opportunities will be available for those who would like to donate for a specific item," officials said.

The humane society is currently considering a campaign to raise $3.5 million. At this time it has approximately $600,000 in the new building fund.

"We at Payson Humane Society have every confidence that our community will help us make the change from the ‘Little Shelter That Could' into the ‘Not-so-Little Shelter That Can Do Even Better!"

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