Humane Society on the move

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 29, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

JEFFERSON — After many years of planning and nine months of construction, the Humane Society of Jefferson County’s new animal shelter is nearly complete, and officials expect to start moving in within the week.

The $3 million shelter will be a huge improvement over the existing facility, which has served the local nonprofit organization since 1976.

Ground was broken last July for the 10,000-square-foot shelter, located at the intersection of State Highway 89 and Kiesling Road, just down the hill from the existing shelter, but at a much more accessible and commodious site. The building now is substantially complete, with only a few details left to be finished up.

The existing, 3,500-square-foot shelter, a former dog kennel repurposed by the humane society in 1976 and in use ever since, is believed to be the oldest operating animal shelter building in the state. It currently serves 1,000 or more animals per year. Located at W6510 Kiesling Road, it was intended as a “temporary” home and was not designed for the kind of heavy use it has seen throughout the past four decades.

The new shelter is designed and built specifically to serve the needs of the humane society and the animals for which it cares.

The differences between the old and new shelter immediately are apparent as soon as visitors pull up to the new building, with its ample parking and surrounding greenspace. The facility has a clearly-defined main entryway that directs visitors in different directions depending on whether they’re there to adopt a pet, take a tour, meet with officials or planning to surrender an animal or drop off a family of cats rescued from under their porch.

The glass front doors open up onto the reception area and a two-story lobby decorated with tiles personalized by donors. Some donors dedicated their tile in honor of or in memory of a pet, while others recognized people or organizations.

“The contractors all got tiles, too,” said Lisa Patefield, executive director of the humane society. “They kicked back $25,000 into the project, which is incredibly admirable. I think they really deserve credit for that.”

As of Tuesday, the granite countertops for the reception area had not yet arrived, but the lobby already was welcoming and offered much more space and flexibility than the tiny little front room at the existing shelter.

Surrounding the lobby/reception area is a series of small rooms: an adopted cat room, a kitten playroom, and a cat playroom, where the animals will be able to interact without cages. The kitten room has a window overlooking the reception desk, while carpeted “cat tower” steps are being constructed in another of the play areas. Off a small hallway to the right are the new men’s and women’s restrooms, much more roomy and welcoming than the limited facilities at the old shelter.

At the end of the hallway is the new community/education room, which will be used for multiple purposes: large meetings and gatherings, dog training classes, presentations and, at some point in the future, children’s daycamps focusing on animals and proper pet care.

The community/education room also will be available for use by local groups, whether for a onetime event or reception or for recurring activities like Zumba classes.

“We see this as potentially paying for itself through rental use, but we also want to give back to the community, which has been so generous in its support for us,” Patefield said.

Not this year, but in years to come, the room would be the site for kids’ camps and activities.

“We are just getting rolling here, so it’s not going to happen this summer,” Patefield said. “We don’t want to do it halfway; we want to do it right. But I definitely see it happening in 2016.”

The humane society director said a few retired elementary school teachers already have signed on to be involved with such a project.

The room also has a big flat-screen TV mounted on the wall, which will allow presenters to share information and show “slideshows.”

Down the hallway are three meet-and-greet rooms where people can “hang out” with a pet they’re thinking of adopting. All three rooms have been sponsored by an individual or organization.

A new addition to the building plan is the “catzebo,” which is partly complete right now. Leigh Meier, chair of the capital campaign for the new shelter, said that the catzebo wasn’t included in the regular design, but planners saw the opportunity to meet another need when they decided to extend what would otherwise have been a “notch” in the main building.

When complete, it will offer cats an opportunity to more fully enjoy the outdoors through a full wall of screens. That way, they can enjoy the scents and sounds coming in from outside and enjoy fresh air without encountering the hazards that regularly endanger “outdoor pets.” For security and stability, the screens will feature double layers, the outside layer a regular screen and the inside layer of sturdy wire fencing.

Along the west edge of the building are a series of dog runs, including inside runs and exterior runs opening onto small enclosures which give dogs space to take care of their needs and also to get some exercise. There is a larger fenced area further to the west.

“This setup will give the big dogs, especially, a chance to really stretch their legs and run,” Patefield said.

Later this year, once the ground is no longer frozen, the humane society will be establishing dog-walking trails to run through the woodsy edge of the property.

The spacious laundry room in the new shelter will be another big upgrade for the humane society. In the existing shelter, laundry had to be done in a crowded room, with only a regular residential washer and dryer.

“We could burn out a regular washer in about nine months, with as much laundry as we have to do,” Patefield said.

The new laundry room has an industrial quality washer that can handle 75 pounds of wet laundry and a dryer that can handle 45 pounds of dry laundry.

“This should save the staff hours and hours of going up and down the stairs to the basement and hanging things out on the line to dry,” Patefield said.

The humane society director said that the change she’s most excited about, however, is the new dedicated “medical complex,” a large veterinary room and smaller attached surgery room.

The specially outfitted veterinary quarters compare extremely favorably with the tiny little medical room in the existing shelter, which not only is cramped and poorly equipped, but also is prone to black mold on its north wall.

The new medical complex is equipped with stainless-steel counters, a surgery table, specialty diagnostic lighting, a gently used autoclave to sterilize surgical equipment and a drop-down exam table.

“The stainless-steel counters will be a big improvement — we didn’t have anything like that at the old shelter,” Patefield said. “It’s not cheap, but it lasts forever.”

She noted that stainless steel is the preferred counter material in hospitals and veterinary clinics because it’s much more sanitary, easy to clean and durable.

The medical complex also has its own sink and washing machine.

“Felton Electric of Jefferson alone donated $2,500 of equipment,” Patefield said.

Having a segregated laundry facility for the veterinary area means that potentially infected materials don’t get mixed in with the shelter’s general laundry.

At the new shelter, the humane society has hired a veterinarian to work on site one day per week. This should reduce the society’s spay/neuter costs immensely and lessen stress on the affected animals.

“Last year when our mobile vet moved out of the area, we had to take all of our animals to area vet clinics,” Patefield said.

Meanwhile, the new shelter also offers a designated food prep room with stainless-steel counters, lots of cupboard space, a new refrigerator and deep sinks. This compares very favorably to the old system of doing dishes in a bathtub. The food prep room even has a microwave for ill animals who need their food heated.

“So many animals come to us sick and you don’t even know what’s going on with them when they first come in,” Meier said.

Both cat and dog areas offer the chance for greater separation and ways to meet different animals’ needs. The stray dog area and the adoptable dog area are separated. There’s a similar separation for stray cats, adoptable cats and feral cats that never have been acclimated to humans.

The feral cat room is comparatively quiet and dark and offers the wild cats greater comfort.

Sick cats also have their own room, with cages facing outward rather than toward each other to minimize cross-infection. Many cats, especially strays and animals that have been living outdoors, come in with upper respiratory infections and they need somewhere to be while they get healthy.

There’s also a quarantine area and an isolation area for animals that are sick or dangerous.

In addition, there’s a small series of pens for dogs brought in overnight, so the entire population of the shelter doesn’t have to be woken up when a loose animal is caught and brought in during the wee hours.

The new shelter has a grooming room that will make it much easier to bathe animals.

“Just today, we had to lift an 80-pound dog into a bathtub to be washed,” Patefield said. “It’s even worse with a 120-pound Rottweiler. In the new grooming room, there will be a ramp so the animals can just walk right up.”

A fiberglass reinforced plastic covering has yet to be installed on the grooming room walls. It goes over the drywall to keep everything sealed up tight and to prevent damage from water.

For the first time, shelter staff members and volunteers also will be able to shower at the facility, which is a great step healthwise. This way, workers who deal with new animals coming in with heartworm, parvo or other problems don’t have to wear their contaminated clothes home and risk bringing those maladies to their own pets. They can shower and change right at the facility before they leave.

The new shelter also has an attached garage.

“I’ve been with the Humane Society of Jefferson County for 13 years, and neither one of our vehicles has been able to spend the night inside during all that time,” Patefield said. “It can be minus-10 degrees out and we have to pick up an animal at 3 a.m. Then you have to get a strange dog you don’t know out of the vehicle and into the building.”

The new garage is heated and adjoins the temporary pens for “overnight arrivals.”

Unlike the existing shelter where small animals like birds, pet rats or lizards had to be housed back either in the crowded entryway or back in a tiny room designed for other purposes, the new shelter has a designated small animal room. Rabbit cages will be arriving for this room later this week.

“We get 100 small animals a year, from birds to hamsters to bearded dragons,” Patefield said. “The small animals tend to like it warm, and this room gives us a warmer, quieter environment where they can hang out.”

A staircase next to the reception area leads to a smaller second floor where the offices are — a luxury compared to the tiny cubicles that make up the “offices” at the existing shelter.

“My office in the old shelter is just a few feet square, with four filing cabinets and a dog crate,” Patefield said. “It has no heat or AC. This is going to be heaven,” she said, gesturing around her new, much more spacious office overlooking the lobby.

The new office even has donated office furniture, thanks to a board member.

The upstairs also includes a conference room with donated conference table and chairs, sponsored by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation; the office of Community Outreach Coordinator Sara Lastusky, whose furniture came with the old Furniture Deals and Steals building that used to sit on this spot; a computer server room; and a general staff workroom, the desk for which came from a massive sale at Prospect Elementary School in Lake Mills.

An overlook to the lower level provides a “loophole” that allows the humane society to forego having to install a sprinkler sysgem throughout the entire building, thus saving $60,000-plus. The shelter does have some sprinkler areas and fire detection equipment throughout, however.

“We have people here 10 hours per day, six days a week plus five hours on Sunday, so it’s not like it’s sitting empty a lot,” Patefield said of the building.

Some of the biggest improvements the new facility brings are not even visible. These are the elements of the new building’s infrastructure, all brand-new, up-to-code and specifically designed for this purpose.

Once the humane society has fully transitioned to the new building, that will eliminate the infrastructure problems workers, volunteers and animals have had to deal with for so long at the old shelter, such as leaks, mold, an inefficient and failing heating and cooling system, old and problematic wiring and poor ventilation.

“The air filtration system in the new shelter will be a big upgrade,” Patefield said. “Not only is it modern and appropriate for a shelter, but several of the HVAC units have air ionizers, the latest and greatest way to filter and clean air,” she said.

Additionally, compromised animals have their own air exchange so that diseases cannot spread through the air from room to room.

All-new plumbing and plenty of it replaces the “marginal” plumbing the old building has. A new electrical system replaces the old building’s patchwork of cords and breaker boxes. And quality new heating and cooling will make the new building far more efficient and comfortable than the old one.

The new, more efficient facility will allow the humane society to put more of the donations it receives toward direct animal care, Patefield pointed out.

And of course, the new facility is handicap-accessible, which the existing facility never was.

Future plans/fundraising

Only a few interior details remain to be finished on the new shelter building itself. But there is still more work to be done outside, including the creation of the brick walkways in the front of the building.

Once spring is under way for good and the ground conditions improve, work will begin on the landscaping around the shelter. Plans also call for benches and birdfeeders around the shelter.

One of the final steps will be the development of a network of walking trails that will wind around the six-acre site — a much better option for dog-walkers than going along the shoulder-less Kiesling Road.

Coordinators are tentatively planning an open house at the new facility in July, a year from the date ground was originally broken on the project.

In the meantime, Meier asks that people be patient through the transition period.

“We will be getting used to the new space and the updated technology that comes with it for a while to come,” Meier said. “We have around 140 volunteers who need to be trained in this new space and a backlog of people who want to sign up to volunteer.”

There’s a lot to do, she said, but everyone involved is very excited to be moving into the new space.

Finally, the fundraising drive for the new shelter continues, though in a low-key way.

Patefield said that the humane society still has to raise more money to finish out its $3 million capital campaign in order to avoid having a mortgage on the building.

“The pledges we have received run for three years, so these will be coming in through 2016, but we need more community members who have been considering contributing to step forward at this time,” Patefield said.

“I think once people come in and tour the building, they’ll be really impressed, and that’s going to help us raise more,” she said.

There are lots of ways people can help support this mission. To name just a few, people can purchase a personalized brick in honor of or in memory of a favorite pet, person, business or organization; buy “naming rights” to one of the remaining available spaces within the new shelter, or participate in the upcoming “Furry Friends 5K” fundraiser. And the humane society welcomes monetary donations in any amount.

“Giving to this project is a forever gift to the people and animals of Jefferson County,” Patefield said.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the shelter, people may send checks written to the Humane Society of Jefferson County at W6510 Kiesling Road, Jefferson, WI, 53549. Donors should indicate on the “memo line” that the donation is specifically for the shelter project.

For more information about the project, people may contact the Humane Society of Jefferson County at (920) 674-2048. Patefield said she would be happy to answer people’s questions or to arrange for tours.

People may check out the website at hsjc-wis.com.

Article source: http://www.dailyunion.com/news/article_8c46485a-d2fe-11e4-ad95-f73815c62f0f.html

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