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The Build-Out

From Animal Sheltering Magazine January/February 2014

The Brackenridge facility has a spay/neuter clinic that will also offer vaccinations and microchipping. The warehouse-style home of Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills in Paris, Maine, used to house a private school. It’s being refurbished in two stages to meet the shelter’s needs.


A New Chapter

In late October, San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) announced the opening of its new, second campus in Brackenridge Park, across from the San Antonio Zoo. The roughly $5 million campus features the 8,200-square-foot Paul Jolly Center for Animal Adoptions, a 2,400-square-foot, low-cost spay/neuter clinic, and an outdoor pavilion. Funded partially with a $1 million gift from the Petco Foundation, the adoption center is named after the foundation’s former executive director. ACS hopes to adopt out 3,000 pets from the center, and perform 4,000 spay/neuter surgeries at the clinic, in the first year of operation. The opening of the campus represents both a new chapter and a homecoming for ACS; the campus is built on the site of the old municipal shelter, which Norwood estimates had been based there for 70-80 years. ACS moved to a different location in 2008, and the old facility was razed. ACS is contracting with San Antonio Pets Alive, one of its major community partners, to run the adoption center, and with Pet Shotz, a local veterinary group, to staff the spay/neuter clinic. The center, which can house up to 56 dogs and 30 cats, will focus solely on finding homes for ACS pets. The clinic, in addition to performing spay/neuter surgeries, will offer vaccinations, microchipping, and other services. One criterion for the project was to try to save an old heritage oak that has been on the site for decades and, Norwood says, has stood as a witness to the evolution of ACS, from the old days up to this more progressive model of sheltering. Shelter staff used to regularly find abandoned dogs tied to the tree, and boxes of kittens left under its limbs, Norwood says. “When you see this new idea being brought to life in such a concrete way, it makes you want to cry,” she adds, “but it’s not tears of sadness—it’s tears of happiness.

They'll Always Have Paris

It was clear that Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills (RPC) needed a new home. “The floors were starting to get spongy, the electrical wiring was bad, we had outlets that didn’t work, and there just didn’t seem to be any way to keep up with all the problems. It was deteriorating faster than we could glue it together,” says Shirley Boyce, shelter president. After 15 years in its small building in Norway, Maine, RPC relocated in May to a new facility in the nearby town of Paris. Purchased for $295,000, the ’70s-era, industrial-style structure with an open floor plan is more than twice as large (70 by 80 feet) as the old shelter. RPC used a $20,000 loan from a shelter supporter to complete the first phase of a two-stage project to renovate the interior to meet its needs, which include housing the strays from 14 towns in western Maine. The initial renovation created an office, a kitchen, a laundry room, a new cat colony room and three other cat areas with traditional, stainless-steel cages, an isolation room, and an open area for dog housing that will eventually be enclosed and feature 14-15 indoor-only runs. RPC recently received a $50,000 USDA Rural Development grant that it will use for the second phase of the renovation, which will address the shelter’s dog housing. RPC is still getting estimates on the project, but Boyce hopes there will be enough money to purchase new Mason kennels and soundproofing. The shelter renovation has benefited from the efforts of several locals: Eric Grondahl of Professional Engineering Design in Norway, Paul Gardner of Nadeau’s Refrigeration in Auburn, and Shirley Boyce’s husband, James Boyce, a contractor. The relocation and renovation have been “huge” for RPC, according to Boyce. “It’s just like night and day. You walk in, and the ceilings are higher, it’s pleasant, it’s roomy. People want to come and help,” she says.

About the Author

Jim Baker is a former staff writer for the Humane Society of the United States.