Heaving a sigh of relief at the wagging tail end of a mild winter, the Humane Society of Central Arizona has nearly finished its new, 7,000-square-foot animal shelter on South McLane Road.
Animal lovers fretted about a final winter for aging, open-air kennels bulging with abandoned dogs, but the lack of winter storms that frustrated water managers delighted the Humane Society.
So now the group has turned to putting the final touches on an enclosed, temperature controlled shelter with separate kennels and treatment options for sick animals, hoping to move about 50 dogs into the new digs in March or April.
Those finishing touches include honoring people who played a key role in the years-long effort to raise the nearly $1 million needed to build the new shelter, which should improve the comfort of the animals and decrease the complaints of the neighbors bothered by the barking of dogs in the old, open-air kennels.
The Humane Society will honor three Payson residents for their integral part in making the new shelter a reality. As a result, the names of John and Sue Wilson and Barbara Brenke will be prominently placed on the property.
The road leading to the new HSCAZ facilities will be named West Wilson Court, to honor the Wilsons’ donation of significant seed money needed to get the capital campaign to build the shelter underway.
The Wilsons have lived in Payson since 1991 and have worked for many charitable organizations, including Library Friends, Zane Grey Museum, PRMC Auxiliary as well as the humane society.
The new building will be called the Barbara Brenke Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in recognition of her contributions, including thousands of volunteer hours in the past 11 years.
Her first volunteer role was to work with the felines, cleaning litter boxes in spite of being allergic to cats. She served as president of the HSCAZ Board of Directors for five years and spearheaded the movement to build a new shelter.
Originally, the Humane Society wanted to build a $5 million shelter, with offices, a community spay and neuter clinic, medical facilities and room to accommodate future growth in the number of dogs and cats handled. But the recession upended those plans, forcing the Humane Society to opt for a less costly facility. The new shelter won’t handle many additional animals, but does have space for future expansion.
Brenke said, “Being recognized on this project in such a significant way came as a complete shock. I love animals and wanted to find a way to improve conditions for the animals under our care. While it can be an emotional experience, working with the dogs and cats is also very rewarding and their love is unconditional.”
Brenke said among the many highlights of her work with the animals, the days spent coordinating temporary kennels and caring for the animals displaced during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire stand out.
The Humane Society of Central Arizona’s president, Bill Enlund said, “We are extraordinarily grateful to John, Sue and Barbara who have set an amazing example for all of us. And of course, there are many, many more who have made this happen whether by personally donating $1 at a time, making estate gifts, remembering the animals through annual holiday donations, holding fund-raisers and countless other ways.”
With that in mind, two honor walls are being constructed framing the entry to the walkway that leads to the building. The names of building fund donors and others who have dedicated time and resources will be displayed on the walls.
The walls will also include quotes about the nature of animals as well as mosaic art by Velma Tainsh.
She and her husband, Tom, both now deceased, were longtime supporters and early members of the board of directors of what was then called the Payson Humane Society.
The 40-year journey from a deteriorating A-frame house to the new facilities for the Humane Society of Central Arizona has been a triumph of the heart, said Diane Reid, who has headed up the fund-raising effort in the past few years.
“Under very difficult, trying and often sad conditions, thousands of animals were served through the dedication and diligence of the various boards of directors, volunteers, staff, donors and friends.”
Humane Society staff, volunteers, adopters and animals are now preparing for the slated April move into their new home. An official grand opening for the community is being planned in the future.
For information about future events, call (928) 474-5590. Mail contributions to Humane Society of Central Arizona, P.O. Box 242, Payson, AZ 85547.