New Peterborough Humane Society building will be a first in Canada

$10 million facility will house shelter and adoption centre, regional spay and neuter clinic, and first-ever provincial dog rehabilitation centre

A design concept for the new state-of-the-art Peterborough Humane Society building, which will be the first humane society building in Canada to include three animal welfare programs under one roof: a pet adoption centre, a regional spay and neuter clinic, and the first-ever provincial dog rehabilitation centre. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)
A design concept for the new state-of-the-art Peterborough Humane Society building, which will be the first humane society building in Canada to include three animal welfare programs under one roof: a pet adoption centre, a regional spay and neuter clinic, and the first-ever provincial dog rehabilitation centre. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)

While there remains more than enough room for love and compassion at 385 Lansdowne Street East, the 6,200-square-foot building is hard pressed to serve the ever-increasing demand for the services offered by the Peterborough Humane Society.

Clearly a solution is needed and — as revealed at an event on Wednesday afternoon (December 20) at the society’s shelter — a solution is indeed on the horizon, in the form of a state-of-the-art animal care centre to be built on a 20-acre site at 1999 Technology Drive.

“This building has served the community very, very well but unfortunately it can’t continue to keep up with the trends of the advancements in animal welfare,” says former society executive director Andrew Fraser.

“This building is very compact in its design and is lacking in terms of what it allows us to do. We do good work with the resources that are available to us, but it’s about health and wellness. Not just for our animals, who are so vulnerable and in need, but also for our staff and our volunteers, and their being comfortable and happy and engaged on a day-to-day basis — in an environment that’s very green with a lot of beautiful architecture and a lot of beautiful natural light.”

Simply put, the current facility (built in 1956 as a dog pound) can’t continue to support the demands of caring for the some 2,000 lost, injured, abandoned, and abused animals that come through the doors annually.

Peterborough Humane Society board member Dena Heming, Zeus the cat, and MPP Peterborough Jeff Leal at a December 20th event at the society's existing building on Lansdowne Street East. The society is launching a public fundraising campaign in early 2018 to raise $4 million for the new building. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW)
Peterborough Humane Society board member Dena Heming, Zeus the cat, and MPP Peterborough Jeff Leal at a December 20th event at the society’s existing building on Lansdowne Street East. The society is launching a public fundraising campaign in early 2018 to raise $4 million for the new building. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW)

A quick tour of the Lansdowne Street building for the benefit of Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal provided clear evidence of that, with virtually every available space occupied.

“When it was constructed, it was to serve certain functions,” Leal says. “They do a remarkable job with the space they have, but they’re dealing with a very confined space while fulfilling so many functions.”

Leal says he will investigate what opportunities there are for the Ontario government to help with the estimated $10 million cost of the new facility.

Designed by Peterborough-based Lett Architects, the planned 24,360-square-foot facility — four times the size of the current building — will feature a number of innovative features including, but not limited to: an aqua therapy pool and underwater treadmill for dog rehabilitation; a family living room to help dogs acclimatize to living in a home environment; and both indoor and outdoor off-leash areas.

A design concept for the interior of the new Peterborough Humane Society building at 1999 Technology Drive, which will be four times the size of the existing building on Lansdowne Street East. The increased space, along with lots of natural light, will provide g both animals and humans with a healthier environment and will reduce risk of infection and disease. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)
A design concept for the interior of the new Peterborough Humane Society building at 1999 Technology Drive, which will be four times the size of the existing building on Lansdowne Street East. The increased space, along with lots of natural light, will provide g both animals and humans with a healthier environment and will reduce risk of infection and disease. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)

The facility will actually be home to three separate animal welfare programs: the Peterborough Humane Society Shelter, Adoption, and Education Centre; a high-volume and low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic; and the first-ever Ontario SPCA Dog Rehabilitation Centre.

“The new centre is going to represent the best in animal welfare in terms of education and programming and essentially opening our doors to the community, be it rescue groups or like-minded affiliates like Trent University or Fleming College,” Fraser explains. “All of these folks are going to be able to utilize the state of the art facility for education-based animal-oriented programming.

“As well, the dog rehabilitation centre addresses a major gap in animal welfare in Ontario and beyond our borders. We’ve gotten really good at helping with the physical ailments and challenges that dogs come into our centre with; what this centre represents is a specific focus on mental and emotional behaviour rehabilitation. Animals are coming in abused and neglected.

“It really represents the pendulum swinging in a positive direction; a recognition that these animals deserve more. It’s very unique. It would be 100 percent fair to say this centre represents a beacon of hope for animal welfare in the province, within Canada and certainly beyond our borders.”

The site plan for the new Peterborough Humane Society building includes private and public outdoor dog enclosures, a drop-off zone, and ample parking.  Download a PDF version of the site plan for more detail. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)
The site plan for the new Peterborough Humane Society building includes private and public outdoor dog enclosures, a drop-off zone, and ample parking. Download a PDF version of the site plan for more detail. (Illustration: LETT Architects Inc.)

But that “beacon of hope” doesn’t come cheap. To that end, the society will launch a public fundraising campaign in early 2018 with the goal of raising close to $4 million.

While that will present a challenge, a good portion of the remainder of the total cost has already been secured: the Ontario SPCA has committed $2 million to the project while the City of Peterborough is in for $1.83 million.

As well, the society estimates the sale of the current building will bring in another $1.3 million, with close to $1.5 million alos coming in the form of grants, bequests, and gifts in kind.

“We’ve sort of been in the quiet phase,” says Chris White, a member of the society’s board and fundraising campaign chair. “It’s really about getting out there and telling community we need its support to make this happen. We’ve been very diligent in our planning to bring it to where it is to date. We expect to make some announcements at the Furball Gala in February.

“Animal welfare is starting to attract a lot of different people, not just people who got into it at an early age. People are really in it now for the cause, so we know there’s an interest.”

VIDEO: Because Animals Deserve More

While there isn’t a firm opening date for the new facility, Fraser hopes and expects ground will be broken this coming spring or early summer. With a time frame of 12 to 18 months for construction, that would bring the opening to summer of 2019, or fall of that same year at the latest.

The increased services that will be offered at the new facility will also create additional jobs. Fraser says the current full-time staff complement will grow to about 45.

“This is a team of passionate and compassionate animal welfare individuals who love and care and tend to this population of animals as much as they would their own animals at home,” Fraser notes. “To see what’s on the near horizon is buoying our spirits and giving us hope, in terms of what will evolve and grow when the new centre becomes fully operational.”

For updates and to make a donation, visit peterboroughhumanesociety.ca/new-animal-care-centre/.

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Paul Rellinger

Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead.

When he’s not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can’t say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough’s rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.

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