CLOSER LOOK – Bonnie Harris, manager of the Gander and Area SPCA, takes a good look at floor plans for a new building. It all started with a donation from a couple who had long supported the organization in Gander.
Last year, the SPCA in Gander took in the news it would be getting a new building. Now, with a draft of floor plans, they’re getting closer to a new animal dream home.
“We’re coming along,” said Betty Suley, president of the Gander animal shelter. “We have our design. We have the land, and now we’re just waiting on lawyers.”
Last spring, Bonnie Harris, manager of the Gander and Area SPCA, opened a letter informing the SPCA Ron and Sonya Lyttle of Traytown had left a large amount of money to the organization. The letter stated Mrs. Lyttle had left a portion of her estate to the Gander and Area SPCA. It was a bittersweet moment, Harris told the Beacon in July of 2013.
“I just couldn’t believe it when I opened it,” Harris. “To know we were going to receive a substantial amount of money was unbelievable at first, but then I realized that a very good friend of the SPCA died in order for us to receive it.”
The exact amount of money the organization will receive is still unknown and is working itself out through a legal process.
“It’s a matter of the estate lawyer getting in contact with our lawyer,” said Suley.
The floor plan for the new building includes a number of features that are greatly needed to expand the SPCA’s level of care, said the Gander president. The new design includes an examination room for injured or ill animals, an isolation room, and expanded areas for dogs and cats to enjoy a little more space and freedom.
One of the greatest features, said Harris, will be a new exercise space that will serve as gymnasium for pets during the harsh winter months.
After last year’s check-in of a young moose, the plan also includes a room for larger wild animals. The new building will be located at 42 McCurdy Drive, a parcel of land donated by the Town of Gander.
“Basically, it’s a more laid out design,” said Suley. “I’m hoping to break ground some time this spring, but I can’t say that for sure. It depends on the lawyers; it depends on a lot of things.”
As for the exact cost of the new building, that’s a figure also unknown.
“It all depends on the layers,” said Suley. “We may have to add, and we may have to subtract. I honestly don’t know.”
Having a new building will give the Gander and Area SPCA a sharper edge than what its current building can provide.
“We’ll be able to offer, hopefully, more things,” said the local SPCA president, “We might be able to teach a little more, as well.”
While it’s been nearly a year since the organization received the donation news, the new building project is still very much in the preliminary stages.
“We’re just dabbling our feet, until we get our ducks in a row,” said Suley. “It’s very preliminary right now.”
The Lyttle couple was originally from England, and had long supported the Gander and Area SPCA.
“They were a really nice couple who visited the shelter usually in late spring or early summer for many years…they would come in their big RV and drop off yard sale items to us, especially puzzles…there would be garbage bags full of puzzles,” said Ms. Harris. “They had also sponsored one of our dog kennels for many years. They never adopted a dog from us, as they had their own two cocker spaniels, but they really supported our shelter…they had a true love of animals,” Harris told the Beacon last summer.
“They always said they were going to leave us something when they passed away, but I couldn’t believe it when I saw how much.”