Animal spa, uh, shelter, offers many services

CLAVERACK—The best thing about the new Columbia-Greene Humane Society’s new animal shelter is that is not 50 years old, Humane Society President Ron Perez said in a phone interview this week.

The homeless animals of Columbia and Greene counties are now awaiting adoption in brand new $2.3 million shelter that keeps them comfortable and healthy.

Two open houses at the new 14,500-square-foot facility at 111 Humane Society Road were recently conducted: Friday, May 30 for the donors who made the new shelter possible and Saturday, May 31 for the public. Three hundred people showed up and 25 animals were adopted out to new homes, Mr. Perez said.

Working closely with the architect, Mr. Perez said every corner of the new shelter was designed with the animal’s health and comfort in mind.

The new shelter has large spaces, better sanitation and an air filtration system, which exchanges facility air seven times an hour, making it healthier and better smelling. Solar-panels, which will supply 65% of the energy used by the facility, will be installed by mid-month.

The new T-shaped building has three wings and three designated dog sections.

The “dog incoming” area is where all dogs make their entrance and are held for a minimum of 10 days. Here, owners have a chance to redeem them if they are lost and they are quarantined for disease, treated if they are ill and observed for temperament.

From there they are moved to the adoption area, a public access area where the dogs can be viewed by potential adopters. Visitors walk down a hallway with glass on both sides. Through the glass, dogs are visible in their runs. Individual information cards telling the dog’s name, age and breed are posted at each run, and if someone is interested in meeting a dog, an adoption counselor will escort them both to a “meet and greet room.” Dogs can also be taken on a nature walk on a path through the woods. The half-mile trail on an old logging road goes to the Claverack Creek, said Mr. Perez.

There are 15 dog runs, and they are spacious, 4 by 15 feet each, he said. In the event of a sudden influx of dogs necessitating the need for more runs, “we can drop the guillotine,” a divider that doubles the number of runs by cutting each one in half, Mr. Perez explained.

The third dog section of the facility is for boarding and grooming. The shelter now offers these services to the public and the money earned goes back into supporting shelter operations.

Cats are also well accommodated in the new facility, with the majority of felines spending their time uncaged in two “free roam rooms.” Outfitted with jungle gyms and cat trees, the rooms also have doors to the outside world, where kitties can soak up the sun safely in a fenced-in area.

For cranky cats that can’t seem to get along, or shy, fearful cats, the facility offers the “cat condo room,” where each cat is kept separate in their own space.

Incoming cats also have a holding period and initially go in stationary or portable cages until they are cleared to move on.

On an average day, the shelter houses 80 cats, about 30 dogs and varying numbers of rabbits, guinea pigs, birds or other “exotics.”

The facility also has a large, multipurpose room for conferences, dog training, staff training and… birthday parties?

Youngsters of all ages can now celebrate their birthdays with their two-legged and four-legged pals.

The shelter offers birthday parties in two-hour slots for up to 15 children. Parents can make arrangements for pizza and cake; children can bring presents for the animals, spend time with a therapy dog and tour the shelter.

The multipurpose room also serves as a waiting room for another feature of the new facility: a surgical suite and exam office where veterinarians from the Chathams Small Animal Hospital provide low-cost vet care, including spaying and neutering along with routine vaccinations to those who cannot afford it.

Though more than half of the facilities’ $2.3 million price tag was shouldered by private donors, the remaining $1 million was financed by the humane society, with the help of Kinderhook Bank and the Bank of Greene County.

Facility rooms can still be sponsored and engraved pavers for the walkway purchased with donations by contacting Mr. Perez at 518 828-6044  X 108 or .

To contact Diane Valden email .

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