Animal shelter seeks new home

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Mike Heine
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
— Packed into a building not much bigger than a good-sized ranch home are several hundred cats, more than 50 barking dogs, an office staff, volunteers, file cabinets, pet food, kitty litter, cleaning supplies, and a tiny waiting room.

To you, that’s the Lakeland Animal Shelter, a nearly 30-year-old facility that might well have experienced 90 years of wear and tear, said manager Kristen Perry.

For the sake of the employees and the abandoned, lost, feral and neglected animals they care for, it’s time to move, Perry said.

“You’ve seen our break room. It’s the garage,” said Marilyn Roznak, who has been with the shelter since it opened in 1979.

The old break room was converted into an infirmary for sick cats.

A 60-foot mobile home bought almost a decade ago houses about 150 cats and an operating room. There wasn’t running water in the trailer when it was brought in and there still isn’t running water there today.

What else?

“The kennels are old and crumbling,” Roznak said. “We need more indoor kennels, more outdoor kennels, a larger cat room.”

The aging facility, off Highway 67 south of Elkhorn, is getting to the point where it isn’t worth sinking money into anymore, Perry said.

The shelter is taking the first step toward relocating by asking the county for a donation of 15 acres of county-owned land. The county board will likely send the request to the public works committee tonight for review.

A possible site would be on Highway NN between Aurora Lakeland Medical Center and the new Lakeland School. The county farm and county annex complex once occupied the area.

Perry expects a new building, with the most modern amenities for an animal shelter, to cost about $5 million including buying land.

If all goes according to plan, a capital campaign fund-raiser will start in 2009 and a new building will be ready by 2012, Perry said.

Animal shelters are different now than they were almost 30 years ago, Perry said.

Animals stay longer—an average of four months—which affects an animals’ psychological health.

The cats and dogs need more separation with quieter spaces as the stays go on for months. Keeping them in improper environments can cause an animals’ health to degrade and make them less adoptable, Perry said.

“We’ve made do with the space we have for as long as we can,” Perry said.

“In the next five years, as a commitment to the animals and to the community, we need a new building to provide for the animals.”

A larger space would also give the shelter the ability to have vet service, give educational seminars, have a public dog park, offer grooming and boarding and possibly have a pet cemetery, Perry said.

A bigger pasture and barn for farm animals would also come in handy. Many large animals have to be outsourced to other farms for care, Perry said.

“It’s frustrating as far as the building limitations,” Perry said.

“Reaching the level of care we’re committed to providing in this facility, it’s difficult. It truly is. But it’s a dedicated group.”

Last updated: 11:01 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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