Animal Welfare ‘gift’ of expansion moving along
Animal Welfare Society, Inc. in New Milford is midway through its renovation and expansion.
The board, staff and volunteers are feeling positive about the construction progress that includes a new addition on the front of the building that was built in 1991 and a complete renovation of the original building.
“We’re so excited,” said Renee Gardner, shelter manager. “It’s going to give so much more space for the animals to be cared for, and for families to interact with the animals.”
The shelter is open during construction, which is expected to be “substantially done” by the end of October, according to AWS President Janet Bloch.
However, the goal is to be completely finished by Thanksgiving.
“We give so much credit to Old Mill Builders and the architects,” Bloch said, emphasizing how smoothly construction is going.
The project includes several new rooms to accommodate the needs of the animals sheltered there as they wait to find a forever home.
Six new rooms will be dedicated each to cat maternity, healthy admissions, medical exams, isolation, grooming and, in the future, surgical procedures.
Bloch said grooming, isolation and admissions overlapped in rooms prior to the expansion.
In addition, the larger space will now enable staff and volunteers to move about with the animals, provide space for prospective pet owners to meet and interact with the dogs and cats, and allow for rainy day activities.
To date, the septic field — where the dogs play — has been upgraded, and the addition on the front of the building has been framed, and windows and doors are in.
Plumbing has been installed and electrical wires have been run in the addition.
On top of that, the dog kennels have been completely renovated. Painting and the installation of cabinets and final touches in the kitchen remain.
Bloch said once certain tasks were completed in the original building and addition, the dogs were moved for three weeks to an off-site location, where staff and volunteers continued to provide the same care they receive at AWS.
During that time, families interested in adopting a dog had the option to visit a dog off site, or meet the dog at AWS.
Soon, the cats will be moved to an off-site location while construction is done in the former front of the original building, which is now the middle part of the new space.
“The animals have adjusted well with all the work happening,” Gardner said.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the 1,300-square-foot expansion and renovation project at the 8 Dodd Road facility was held April 2.
Work began about a month later.
Once all work is done, Bloch said AWS will invite the public to a ribbon cutting, where the board and others can share “our gratitude and thanks.”
“This is a gift we didn’t anticipate but are thoroughly enjoying how it’s going and what it will provide for the animals,” Bloch said.
For some time, the facility had outgrown its space.
Plans for a renovation began in 2008, but were shelved temporarily until a grant three years ago afforded the shelter the opportunity to begin architectural plans.
Last fall, a bequest from the Cheryl Kupper Trust provided the organization the necessary means to move forward with the long-awaited project.
Although funds from the trust paid for the renovation, AWS relies on donations from the public for ongoing operations.
Animal Welfare Society at 8 Dodd Road in New Milford is open during adoption hours Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 860-354-1350. Donations can be made online at www.aws-shelter.org.