It wasn’t exactly raining cats and dogs Monday except at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society’s new shelter on West Stowell Road.
About a dozen dogs and half a dozen cats moved into the new
$3.9 million facility, transported by a small army of volunteers from the old Black Road shelter in a light drizzle.
Among them was Koozie, the society’s office cat, who didn’t take long to get comfortable in her accommodations. The long-haired Siamese mix moved into the Cat Village in the new shelter and within minutes was making herself at home in one of its kitty condos. The fact that she so quickly ruled the roost at the new shelter didn’t surprise the volunteers and staff at all.
“If you needed to make a copy and she was on the copier, you had to come back later,” Nola Huss, one of the dozens of volunteers who helped transport the animals to the new shelter, said with a laugh.
The Humane Society moved its adoptable dogs and cats into the new 16,000-square-foot no-kill shelter and clinic Monday. The facility has been under construction since 2009.
Even though the facility is not yet finished, the move marked a cat-like leap for the organization.
“We’ve been fundraising for this project since 2005,” Executive Director Jill Tucker said. “So after eight years and raising about $3.5 million, it is a great day.”
The new building replaces one the Humane Society has used since 1986, and one that has been outdated and overburdened for most of that life span. The new building currently features 22 individual indoor/outdoor dog kennels with more in the plans; separate rooms for kittens and adult felines in the Cat Village; adoption rooms; isolation rooms; a grooming room; rooms for food storage and Pet Food Bank; offices; a break room for volunteers and more.
The spay/neuter clinic is one of the portions of the building that isn’t quite finished. More money needs to be raised to finish it off.
“We had to do it as the money became available. That was part of it,” said Dan Blough, the general contractor on the project who was on hand to watch the animals fill the building for the first time.
Blough said observation kennels will be finished in about a week, while the clinic will take longer. A separate large dog kennel with 26 indoor/outdoor runs also will be completed at a later date.
Tucker said the spay/neuter clinic is an indispensable part of the shelter. More than 77 percent of the animals euthanized in Santa Barbara County are from Santa Maria, which illustrates the need for their clinic, she added.
The organization did 2,500 spay/neuter procedures in 2012 and marked its 25,000th operation Jan. 11. The new clinic will double that capacity.
“We feel like we’re set up for success here,” Tucker said, hearing barks and meows echo through the shelter for the first time. “It’s so great to have animals in here.”