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The Build-Out

  • The Brunswick County Animal Shelter got murals, a new bench, and flooring. Erin Brown/A Perfect Day Photography

by Jim Baker

New Sheriff in Town

One of the first things 1st Sgt. Tommy Tolley did when he took over last summer as supervisor at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter in Supply, N.C., was remove the old sign on the front of the building. “I think it said, ‘Protecting People from Animals and Animals from People,’” he says, chuckling. Now the sign simply says Brunswick County Animal Protective Services.

The new sign (in black and gold—the sheriff’s department colors) was only the first step in a campaign to improve the county’s lone animal shelter, and upgrade its image, too. “We’re trying to change the stereotype of ‘the pound,’ and make it more inviting for people to come in. It has to be aesthetically pleasing. It can’t be a dirty, nasty place—no one wants to go there,” he says. The 12-year-old shelter has been repainted inside and out, and volunteers have painted tropical murals in the meet-and-greet room, which also has a new, built-in bench for visitors, and new flooring. The pale blue walls of the “bubble room”—the space where pets are bathed—have been painted with big bubbles, cats, and dogs.

In late 2012, the shelter also received a $3,000 grant from The HSUS to purchase new housing for cats—banks of stainless-steel cages—in the intake, stray, and adoptable areas. “So instead of holding five or six cats together in a large cage, we can now hold one or two in single cages. … Some of these cats just don’t get along with each other, so it’s nice to get the cats their own space.”

Next to the building is a new 40-by-60-foot fenced play yard, with new sod and brightly colored obstacles for dogs to romp in and around. “They still have to behave, but when you see a shelter dog or rescue animal that’s just running around and doing the crazy run, back and forth and over things, it makes you realize, ‘OK, we’re headed in the right direction,’” Tolley says.

  • Fern is one of the first pets to be adopted from the Great Plains SPCA’s new adoption center. Tim Yeaglin

Doggie in the Window

Pets in the care of Great Plains SPCA will have it swell in the organization’s $2.8 million, 10,000-square-foot adoption center that opened in December in Merriam, Kan., located in the Kansas City metro area. The new facility, which is next door to Great Plains SPCA’s 16,000-square-foot veterinary care center and high-volume spay/neuter clinic, features colony housing for cats and dog suites for pups, indoor and outdoor play areas for pooches, sunrooms with large glass windows and high perches for kitties, an expanded retail store, and a volunteer center. Great Plains SPCA’s former adoption center was a 3,300-square-foot building donated to the organization in the 1960s; it will be demolished, and construction will begin soon for a new intake facility.

“It more than triples our space for adoptions; it gives us a better opportunity to provide enrichment … for the pets. Most importantly, however, it will increase our capacity to save lives,” says Courtney Thomas, president/CEO. The new center is also designed to create a welcoming atmosphere. “You walk in, and you immediately feel good. You feel good about the contribution that you’re making to help a homeless pet have a new life, and it’s a place that you feel really good about volunteering your time,” Thomas says. The center was made possible by a donor family who wanted to honor the legacy of their pet; they purchased the $800,000 building next to the veterinary center, and then donated $2 million to complete its renovation. Tevis Architects of Lenexa, Kan., worked closely with Thomas to design the adoption center. One cool aspect of the design is all the glass that lets the outside world in—and also allows those driving by the facility to glimpse the cute pets inside. “You can see the cats playing and having a good time,” Thomas says, “and when you enter our parking lot, you can see the dogs in one of the large, indoor play areas having fun.”

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