GANDER, NL – Having spent the past 32 years at its McCurdy Drive location, quarters at the Gander and Area SPCA have become cramped for the non-profit organization’s workers, volunteers and the animals they take care of.
But that’s about to change.
The construction and operation of a new shelter at 100 Baird St. has been signed off on by the town, and clearing of the one acre lot is underway.
Blueprints for the facility indicate the new shelter will be multi-level, measuring 58- by 55-feet on the first level, and 24- by 19-feet on the second.
Betty Suley, the SPCA’s president, said construction of the facility is expected to take place in May. Once completed, it will provide double the available floor space of the current building.
And it’s coming with features that were only dreamed of.
Along with additional cat rooms and dog kennels, the new facility will have an isolation (quarantine) room, a training/multipurpose area, an exotic animal room, private office space, a kitchen, and much needed storage space.
There will also be available outdoor space to provide the sheltered animals the opportunity to stretch their legs.
There’s even a wildlife section, as Suley noted the SPCA has had to care for two moose in the past, and a variety of birds of prey. The SPCA doesn’t keep wild animals, but has been known to hold them until wildlife authorities are available to carry out a transport.
Robyn Paul has been with the SPCA for the past three years and she knows how crowded things can get.
“We’re always trying to keep up on the cleaning and moving things around so it’s not so stuffy here,” she said.
She says a quarantine room is a much-needed addition.
“When you have sick animals coming in, and in such small quarters, it makes isolation really difficult,” she said. "This would provide a safer environment for both humans and animals."
Manager Bonnie Harris has spent her entire 22 years with the organization at the McCurdy St. location, but she’s more than ready to make the move.
“When you’ve got to leave your office just to make a phone call because it’s so crowded, it makes operations difficult," she said. “So, a private office will be nice.”
She’s also hopeful the new facility will also assist in the adoption process.
Harris said some pet owners look to adopt a second dog, but when visiting to see how the animals will interact with one another, there’s no available space for that to happen.
The exercise/multipurpose area can make that happen.
“We will be able to bring animals in for an individual setting, and hopefully, if everything goes well, it will lead to their adoption,” Harris said.
But to make all of this happen doesn’t come cheap.
While the town has donated the undeveloped land, Suley expects the total cost to be near $1 million when completed.
Raising that money is mighty task for a non-profit.
“But we’re fundraising, fundraising, fundraising,” said Suley, adding there has been tremendous support in helping the SPCA reach its goal.
The success of the Broadway musical Come From Away has resulted in more than $35,000 being donated toward the cause, and the Gander and Area SPCA was bequeathed half-a-million dollars by Mr. and Mrs. Ron Little of Traytown.
“We’re getting there, but we still got a long way to go, because even after the building is completed we have to furnish it,” Suley said.
The SPCA has a series of fundraisers in place to continue raising funds for the construction of the new building that can be found at ganderandareaspca.com. It also has a GoFundMe page: Building Our Future.