Happiness for the animals at the Humane Society of Central Arizona is being adopted and having someone to love.
The next best thing is the safe, secure environment of the Barbara Brenke Rescue & Adoption Center —the new animal shelter.
Rim Country residents are invited to come out to the shelter today and tomorrow to celebrate that happiness at the facility’s grand opening.
The special events for the grand opening started at 7 a.m., Friday with a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, also slated for 7 a.m. Saturday.
The shelter itself will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday and plans an adoption special — adopt any animal for just $15, each animal has all its vaccines, is spayed or neutered and microchipped.
The adoption special will continue on Saturday, when most of the festivities will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., kicking off with the formal ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Volunteers will offer guided tours, including activities for children and demonstrations at noon and 2 p.m. on obedience and how a dog learns. The Humane Society Thrift Shop will have a boutique and PAWS in the Park will have a booth. Cake Love by Monica will have cupcakes and cookies for sale. The shelter will conduct a raffle, sell T-shirts and canvas tote bags and offer pet microchips for $25.
The new facility
Executive Director Sarah Hock talked about the difference the new shelter has already made. “It was a tremendous difference going through the summer knowing the animals were protected from the heat and storms,” she said. “That’s a good feeling. We don’t have to worry about the elements and that’s a wonderful blessing.”
At the old shelter — a converted, expanded and patched together residential A-frame house — many animals had to endure summer and winter storms in outdoor kennels, which sometimes suffered major damage.
The Humane Society had to scale back initial, ambitious plans to add capacity when fund-raising slowed with the onset of the recession, but at least the new facility provides secure, indoor slots for all the animals and will ensure now none of the dogs have to be doubled up, unless it is to their benefit.
“Some of them do better with a buddy,” Hock said.
She added the configuration of the kennels also makes cleaning much more efficient.
“One of the big things is being able to keep the animals separate for disease control,” she said.
The new layout also puts the exercise and play yards closer and makes it possible for the staff to play music for the animals. The dogs get to go outside two to four times a day, she said.
“When people aren’t visiting, they seem more calm and quiet,” Hock said.
The shelter operates with a paid staff of 16, including two people at the Humane Society Thrift Shop at 510 W. Main, and a corps of about 120 regular volunteers, 40 of which help at the facility.
The Humane Society had used the facility at 812 S. McLane since at least the late 1970s. A concerted effort to raise funds to build a new shelter started in earnest around 2007.
Initially, the Humane Society Board of Directors hoped to build a $3.5 million facility, including veterinary facilities. The recession forced the board to scale back plans and a $400,000 bequest helped the effort move forward. The society awarded an $800,000 contract to build a new, 7,000-square-foot animal shelter in May 2011 and broke ground for the construction that September and moved into the new digs in May 2012.
The adoption center off South McLane Road features three, glass-fronted rooms right off the main foyer with kittens and cats proudly on display. Hock said the cat community rooms have their own ventilation system to cut down on odors and the spread of disease. Each room can house as many as 10 cats. The shelter has 46 kennels, eight more than the former shelter. Each has more room and less chance of inflicting disease or injury. The new space has enough room to handle the 100 animals the center averages.
The new shelter is named for 11-year volunteer Barbara Brenke; the entrance, a new cul-de-sac — West Wilson Court — honors John and Sue Wilson for their part in making the new shelter a reality.
In addition, two walls framing the entry walkway will feature the names of donors and those who dedicated time and resources for the project.
The new space has several features the staff was excited to see made the budget: four washers and dryers, a grooming tub, isolation rooms, a separate entrance for animal intake and enough outside space for each dog to roam.
There is also space to add a second phase in the same building footprint as demand increases.
Help still needed
Happiness may be a new safe, secure animal shelter, but it comes with a little wrinkle. Donations have fallen off in recent months, but the society still needs the community’s help to provide for the animals.
“We have an average of 150 mouths to feed daily, along with providing vet care,” Hock said.
The shelter needs donations, including cash or gift cards, food, blankets, towels, bleach, paper towels, cat litter, etc. Drop off what you can between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The new facility address is 605 W. Wilson Court. For more information, contact the shelter at (928) 474-5590. Mail contributions to: Humane Society of Central Arizona, P.O. Box 242, Payson, AZ 85547.