by Jim Baker
About 10 days before the Capital Humane Society’s new, $3.8 million Pieloch Pet Adoption Center in Lincoln, Neb., was set to open in early June, a subcontractor misapplied solvent to the tile floor, ruining it, and requiring nearly 8,000 square feet of flooring to be removed and reinstalled. “My heart sunk a bit, but you can’t dwell on stuff like that. You just have to let it go,” says Robert Downey, the shelter’s president/CEO. Workers had to use machines to grind the new tiles back down to the concrete floor, then lay new ones—a process, Downey says, that probably cost about $90,000, paid for by the subcontractor’s insurance company. The 15,000-square-foot center, which can house about 60 cats and 30-40 dogs, opened to the public in July. “Now that it’s open and people are inside, they’re kind of overwhelmed by the quality of the facility,” Downey says. “The location is incredible. It’s in a shopping center anchored by a Home Depot … it’s a highly visible, very attractive building.” The facility, designed by Omaha firm Bahr Vermeer & Haecker, is a stark contrast to Capital Humane’s 1960s-era facility, located on the edge of town, which will continue to be used for stray intake, owner surrenders, and some administrative purposes. The new center features real-life rooms for dogs that visitors can see from the parking lot, six cat colonies, glass-front dog kennels, isolation areas for dogs and cats, and seven interaction rooms for potential adopters to meet pets. Each of these rooms has wireless computer access, so that multiple adoptions can be processed at once. The HVAC equipment is located in a basement to shield it from Nebraska’s extreme weather, and the exterior is an inviting blend of stone, steel, and cedar. “The staff are as delighted as can be. … Volunteers think it’s just the cat’s pajamas—so to speak,” Downey says.
Excuse Our Mess
Anyone who’s ever lived through a home remodeling project—or a major shelter renovation—can certainly sympathize with staff at the Humane Society of Broward County (HSBC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who kept the shelter open during a seven-phase renovation. The roughly $4 million project, launched in September 2012 and done almost entirely within the shelter’s original footprint, required HSBC to rent five modular trailers to relocate some of its departments and services. The trailers housed the pet boutique, the adoption desk for paperwork, dog training, vaccine clinics, staff and construction crew offices, bathrooms, and animal admission. But the project’s biggest challenge, according to vice president of marketing Cherie Wachter, was how to handle the shelter’s 25 loads of laundry per day while its laundry room was being torn down (workers found mold in the walls). Laundry services in the area were too expensive, so HSBC staff had to take the shelter’s wash out to Laundromats. The project, originally scheduled to end in summer 2013 but extended several months, left the staff and public with a vastly improved facility, including four renovated kennels; renovated food-prep and laundry rooms; an expanded pet boutique; renovated administrative offices and education center; new exterior doors and energy-efficient lighting and roofing insulation; improved catteries; a vaulted ceiling in the lobby; and hurricane-resistant glass windows. HSBC’s former look was a bit sterile, Wachter says, while the building’s new façade has a Key West-type of southern Florida feeling. The results of the project seem to have impressed the staff and volunteers who had to soldier through it. “They always said, ‘We thought the building was nice before, but it really looks beautiful now,’” Wachter says.
Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine