A sign posted on the door leading to the dog kennel at the Peterborough Humane Society (PHS) advises those whose pass to stay ‘pawsitive.’
With construction of the $10-million Peterborough Animal Care Centre well underway on a 20-acre site at 1999 Technology Drive in southeast Peterborough, PHS executive director Shawn Morey doesn’t need any coaxing in that department.
During a tour of the new facility site provided exclusively to kawarthaNOW, Morey’s excitement was palpable, both in his voice and in his body language. Picture a child during a pre-Christmas visit to the toy department and you’ll get the idea.
“This will be recognized as the premium animal care centre not only locally and regionally but, I would argue, nationally as well — we will be looked upon as the gold standard,” predicts Morey.
“Peterborough should be extremely excited about this. Animal wellness is definitely a growth sector right now and is going to be for a number of years. We’re building at the right time.”
If the continued success of an ongoing fundraising campaign, titled Our Pet Project, is any indication, Peterborough is indeed excited.
To date, some $9 million has been raised via a variety of sources, including $1.68 million from the City of Peterborough and $741,000 bequeathed by the late Cynthia (Cyndy) Richards, a PHS volunteer who passed in November 2019 after a long illness.
In addition, the Ontario SPCA has committed $2 million to the project, PetSmart Charities of Canada has contributed $161,000 and Community Futures has granted $50,000. Then there’s a number of sizable corporate donations from Darling Insurance, Stonehouse, One Fine Food, and Wildfire Golf Club to name but a few.
With soft costs, contingencies, and taxes added to the equation, Morey notes another $3 million in donations is still needed, but he is confident that will be secured. To make a tax deductible donation, visit www.ourpetproject.ca/donate or reach out by email to Julie Howe, PHS’ corporate partnerships and marketing manager, at email@example.com or phone 705-745-4722, ext. 201.
To say the new 24,000-square-foot centre is sorely needed classifies as the understatement of the year. PHS’s current home opened in 1956 as a dog pound and for years that sufficed, but as the demand for animal care services and kennel space grew substantially over the years, the space couldn’t keep pace — despite at least three renovations that saw additions expand it to 6,200 square feet.
As Morey notes, every square inch of the current facility is spoken for and then some. While PHS staff have made the best of a challenging situation, the needs of the some 1,500 animals housed and cared for annually, as well as pet owners and visitors, aren’t being met to the standards desired.
That situation will change in a very big way come early October 2022, the projected opening date of the new centre.
“This was needed years ago,” says Morey, adding “It’s time — we need to make this happen now.”
Designed by Peterborough-based Lett Architects with Peak Construction Group Limited of Brighton serving as the general contractor, the centre will be unique in Canada in its bringing shelter, adoption, education, accessible spay and neuter, and dog rehabilitation services together under one roof.
At its centre are three distinct services: PHS’ continued care and housing of animals in need, a spay and neuter clinic that can accommodate 25 animals daily and, in partnership with the Ontario SPCA, Canada’s first provincial dog rehabilitation centre that will care and support animals that have been abused, neglected, or traumatized under the supervision of animal behaviour specialists.
In all three areas, everything is designed with animals front of mind: more room, abundant natural light, and minimal noise and stress.
One of the most significant changes, Morey explains, is the way dogs will be housed at the new centre. Each of the multiple “suites” has its own in/out privileges, made possible via a double sliding door that leads from the interior kennel space to a sizable outside space. That’s a huge upgrade from the current facility, where each dog have to be taken outside by a staff member and then brought back inside.
As for the spray and neuter clinic, which comprises a spacious 2,600 square feet, Morey says it will be “a major hub” for animal owners across the region and well beyond.
“The two biggest barriers for folks to get their animals spayed or neutered are time and money,” he points out. “If we can eliminate those two barriers, we’re not only going to see better health promotion of animals in our care but also regionally. There’ll be less pet overpopulation and more (spayed or neutered) animals available for adoption.”
The clinic will provide affordable spay and neuter services with same day service, unlike similar facilities that have a wait of anywhere between 18 and 24 months, or the weeks or months at a veterinarian.
“Owners will be able to bring their pets to us between 7:30 and 8 a.m., leave and go enjoy the sights and sounds of Peterborough, have lunch, do some shopping, and pick up their animal around 3 or 3:30 pm,” Morey says.
Noting the new centre is foremost “designed and built with the animals in mind,” Morey says, at the end of the day, the end goal is a simple one: to revolutionize animal wellness not only here in Peterborough but also regionally and provincially.
“It’s going to take our current facility and what we’re housing here and expand the services, programs, treatments, and wellness we’ll be able to provide,” he says. “We’re taking all the best practices and elevating service one step more — in our case, probably two or three steps more. It’s about bringing the future of animal wellness here today.”
“We’ve spared no expense with regard to disease prevention and health promotion of our animals,” adds Morey, referring to the state-of-the-art heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that will provide fresh and healthy airflow at all times into all areas of the centre. “Our HVAC unit represents one-tenth of the total cost of the building. In some spaces within the centre, it’s going to be hospital grade or better.”
PDF: Peterborough Animal Care Centre master floor plan
VIDEO: Construction progress at the new Peterborough Animal Care Centre
Noting the project will have taken 10 years to go from concept to reality next year, Morey readily admits to growing excitement as each day on the calendar is ticked off, but says his staff are even more excited.
“Not only will there be more space to work with the animals, but it’s going to allow us more opportunities to have that direct care — that intimate care — with each individual animal that is lacking currently,” he says.
‘This is the right thing to do. I’m not saying that as executive director of the organization — I’m saying that as individual who loves animals. This facility was sorely needed many years ago. What it’s going to do for pets, and families and individuals, is going to be outstanding.”
For more information about the Peterborough Humane Society, visit peterboroughhumanesociety.ca.