While Executive Director Liam Cullin is the leader of the pack inside the walls of the soon-to-be-expanding North Bay and District Humane Society, it was clear outside in the parking lot Thursday morning the resident top dog is Scooter.
Only once Scooter finished welcoming the assembled guests with assorted vocal greetings did Cullin took to the podium to launch the Humane Society's fundraising campaign, Homeward Bound.
Generous donations already received from supporters plus funding from the OSPCA will allow for a new adoption centre project to move past the shovel ready phase in the next few months. The brick fundraising campaign hopes to raise an additional $500,000 toward the completion of the expansion, slated for fall 2021.
Both Cullin and veterinarian Dr. Ron Schweitzer spoke of the need for more room at the facility.
Cullin says with an average of 1,600 animals passing through the Human Society's doors annually and 80 to 100 cats in the facility at any given time, space is at a premium. The fundraising for the new 3,200 square foot building will allow the Humane Society to increase its occupancy by half.
Cullin adds the new space will help with the Pet Valu Animal Rescue Express "that travels around the province doing adoption events at Pet Valu stores. It will allow us to do not only more here, locally, but share the love across the province to find our friends some forever homes."
It will be the Humane Society's first expansion in 30 years but Dr. Schweitzer's association with the shelter goes back to 1984. He says times have changed when it comes to animal welfare and more space gives the Humane Society's staff and the team of volunteers more time to work with the animals and to give them any needed medical care before the search for homes can begin.
The North Bay and District Humane Society helps hundreds of dogs and cats find their forever homes locally through pet adoptions and around the province through its animal transfer program.
"We believe we can do more for animals. As the hub of the north for animal welfare, we have outgrown our current facility. Building a standalone adoption centre will open up additional space and will help us fulfill our mission to find a forever home for every dog and every cat."
The Humane Society gives details of the new building, designed by local firm Bertrand Wheeler Architecture Inc. It will feature 12 new dog kennels, five cat and kitten rooms, an outdoor "catio" space, four new outdoor dog runs, and an enclosed exercise area. Also included in the design are commercial laundry facilities, a multi-purpose training room and a "meet and greet" space for new pet parents. Once completed, all adoptions will be facilitated at the new centre, clearing up space at the existing Humane Society building, which has experienced an increase in stray and vulnerable animals in recent years.
The Homeward Bound campaign is now underway and will run for a full year. Community members will have the opportunity to invest in the project by buying bricks around the facility. Donors can also choose to dedicate specially engraved bricks to pets, family members or loved ones. Individual and corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more on the Homeward Bound fundraising campaign, click here.