Home at Last
At times, project coordinator Susan Elliott-Rink says, the development of a permanent home for Pet Rescue by Judy in Sanford, Fla., was a little like “eating an elephant one bite at a time”—she couldn’t imagine ever being done. But the nonprofit founded in 1992 by Judy Sarullo, which has been housed in 11 different locations (including some substandard ones) over the years, opened its new, 6,000-square-foot headquarters and adoption facility in March. Elliott-Rink, an animal-loving businesswoman, got involved after she received a fundraising letter as Pet Rescue by Judy tried to raise $680,000 to renovate an old donated building next to a local dog park. Raising that much money sounded like a tall task (“I don’t care how many friggin’ garage sales you do … it ain’t happening,” Elliott-Rink says with a laugh), but she set out to find animal-loving plumbers, electricians and other construction contractors who would be willing to help. The business community contributed more than $800,000 in donated materials and labor, and more than 400 contractors worked on the building, she says. Key features include solar tubes in the ceiling to increase natural light, an air sanitation and purification system and $1,800 organic cat trees that Elliott-Rink says keep the occupants of the “Feline Enrichment Center” in a blissed-out state. Pet Rescue by Judy had built up plenty of goodwill in the community: Elliott-Rink describes Sarullo as a Mother Teresa-like figure for animals, known and admired throughout Central Florida. Sarullo says Elliott-Rink’s business connections greatly aided the project. “I still have goose bumps,” Sarullo says. “… We have a home of our own now.” Next up? Developing a spay/neuter clinic next door.
First impressions count, whether you’re trying to nail a job interview, woo a future spouse or save animals. The Maryland SPCA in Baltimore, which previously greeted visitors with a doublewide trailer attached to the front of a 1970s-era building, is making a more positive impression these days, thanks to a recent upgrade. “People perceive you in many ways,” says Cheryl Bernard Smith, the SPCA’s director of operations, “and I think if they come in and see a nice, clean facility, it says a lot about the way you’re caring for the animals.” The trailer, which housed the organization’s admissions and adoptions departments in a cramped space, has been removed, and the refurbished building boasts a number of improvements, Smith says. The admissions and adoptions departments are no longer on top of each other, she explains, and cubicle spaces have been expanded, making it easier for staff to interact with visitors in a more private and compassionate manner. The renovation expanded the SPCA’s cat room, adding communal condos where the felines look comfortable and relaxed. The shelter switched from barred kennel doors to glass, which looks friendlier and helps control the spread of disease, Smith says. A creative contractor (Constantine Commercial Construction) built “clouds” featuring sound-absorbing material above the rows of kennels, quieting the building’s interior. The improvements have created a more pleasant environment for the animals as well as visitors and staff, Smith says. “All of us are here for the animals, but we also have people to take care of. We want to make sure the visitors are feeling welcome, and feeling like the way we’re caring for animals is the best that it can be.”
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