After years of fund-raising and hope falling, the Humane Society of Central Arizona this week finally began putting up the frame of a new, $900,000 animal shelter that will keep thousands of homeless cats and dogs safe and snug for decades to come.
Amon Builders brought in cranes to dangle into place the metal framework for the 7,000-square-foot building, funded entirely with private donations.
The Humane Society board opted for a metal framework and walls, with a façade to cover the metal on the outside and thick insulation to muffle the sounds of the dogs on the inside. Crews hauled the frame produced by American Buildings in from Carson City, Nev.
The builders hope to have the walls up and the roof bolted into place by mid December, so they can finish off the interior during the winter. The Humane Society hopes to have the animals moved into their new home in March.
“Everything about it is going to be a giant step forward as far as the ease of cleaning, keeping the animals healthy, making it a nicer place for people to come and find their new best friend,” said Diane Reid, a Humane Society board member who directs the groups fund-raising. “It will be a much nicer place for volunteers to come and be a part of what we do — walk animals — do good things for them. Everything about it will be a wonderful difference.”
However, construction delays caused by a round of design changes to make the building more soundproof and squeeze down the total cost means one more long winter in the ramshackle, mostly outdoor kennels and cages of the existing shelter. The only animal shelter in Rim Country has been bulging at the rusted seams ever since the onset of the recession — which prompted many people to leave town or abandon pets they could not longer afford to keep.
The Humane Society originally wanted to build a much larger, $5 million shelter to accommodate future growth and include things like a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. However, the group scaled back its plans after the recession flattened fund-raising goals.
The new shelter won’t add many kennels, but will move the animals inside — protecting the dogs and cats from the weather and the neighbors from the barking.
The design of the new building will also make it easier to take in extra animals for short periods of time without endangering their health, said Reid.
Instead of adapting an aging house to the needs of the animals, the new building will have an isolation ward and easy-to-maintain kennels on sloping concrete floors and a high pressure cleaning system. That will make it much easier to maintain the facilities and keep the animals healthy.
Reid noted that this week’s early winter storm highlighted the problems with the existing, aging facility.
“It’s tough: It’s already started. It’s been a difficult week or so. Remember, it’s mostly the staff having to get through it. The animals come and go pretty quickly, thank goodness. We’re doing a lot to make sure they’re warm and good as things can be. Getting additional tarps to cover kennels — waterproof tarps — we have things we do if we have to really get them out of the weather.”
Some of the extra costs to improve soundproofing and make other changes will likely add about $40,000 to the projected cost of the building, putting it at just under $900,000.
The Humane Society continues to push for additional donations to cover the extra costs and provide needed furnishings.