The P.E.I. Humane Society is looking to expand its pawprint.
The society held a news conference at the animal shelter in Charlottetown on Tuesday to launch a public capital campaign for a $2.9-million renovation to the existing facility on Sherwood Road.
The campaign is already well on the way. With the help of donors, more than $1.6 million has been raised.
Phase 1 is complete and involved creating new office space for employees, including animal protection officers, who had been working out of a cramped basement for the past 23 years. Those officers have been forced to have, at times, sensitive meetings with upset pet owners which staff say raises safety issues.
“Phase 2 focuses on us becoming a premiere facility to house and help companion animals across P.E.I.,’’ said Debby Miller, president of the society.
The next phase will involve a focus on prevention, creating an environment that reduces animal stress, controls disease and promotes overall wellness. It will address critical issues like air quality, temperature and disease control. There will be improved public space, a private pet surrender area and a full surgical suite with additional exercise and enrichment space. It will add new sick bays, recovery rooms and treatment facilities.
Work will begin when the society has reached 80 per cent of its fundraising goal. No operational funding has been used or will be used.
Marla Somersall, executive director of the society, said an architectural and engineering firm has conducted an assessment of the building and the society has been told the building could be renovated for half the cost of a new one.
“We took a look at the critical needs and heating was one of them,’’ Somersall said. “We don’t have adequate hot water in the building, which is quite important for disease control.’’
Space will also be created for animals that come in highly stressed, so volunteers can work with them and get them ready for adoption. Additional room will also be created so cats and dogs can be more active.
The P.E.I. Humane Society is in need of more space to address following issues:
- Heating for the animals, especially the small ones who don’t generate enough of their own body heat
- Hot water
- Ventilation/a new air quality system
- Additional safety precautions for animals and people
Jennifer Harkness, development manager for the society, said the current building does not meet the needs of animals that come from abused, neglected or hoarding situations.
“Animals are coming in that need extra care and we need extra space,’’ Harkness said. “We just need a caring community to help us reach our dream.’’
Pam Williams, chairwoman of the fundraising campaign, said it’s heartbreaking to know that people who are forced to surrender their companion animals for whatever reason and are extremely emotional in doing so are mixing with people who are in to happily adopt. The new facility will give people who have to surrender their animals some privacy.
“The current premises don’t allow for the separation of these two very important times in people’s lives,’’ Williams said. “You can imagine the emotional stress for the person who, for beyond reasons of their control, is saying goodbye to their pet.’’
Williams said donations will be accepted through just about any means — public donations, private fundraising, corporate partners, dress down days, in-kind donations or school fundraising.
The shelter and all its animals will have to vacate the existing facility during the construction period. A new, temporary location has not yet been found.