Lakeland Animal Shelter Opens First Phase of New Facility

 

Phase One of construction on the new Lakeland Animal Shelter on Highway 67 just outside of Elkhorn is complete, thanks to some wonderful donors. Employees and volunteers are looking to the future with high hopes of completing the entire project as soon as possible.

“We’re excited that donations came in over and above what we expected for Phase One, so we were able to do more of this so we can then have more flexibility with the next sections as money comes in and get occupancy as we go,” said Kristen Perry, executive director of Lakeland Animal Shelter.

All cats and the small dogs have been moved from the old facility to spacious, comfortable accommodations in the new building. Both animals and people are much more comfortable at the new facility. The front lobby is more welcoming and open for visitors and doesn’t create a bottleneck.

“It’s a much nicer experience for people when they walk in the front door, and they don’t have to persevere to get to the counter,” Perry said.

The new building is more welcoming and spacious for animals, employees and volunteers, helping to prevent congestion at the front desk, in the animal housing areas and the rooms where people interested in adoption come to meet the animals. There is more space for pet adoption counselors to work with anybody interested in adoption as well as for veterinarians to perform health checks and surgeries on the entire construction is complete.

Phase 1.5

Perry said she and her colleagues are working out the details of completing an in-between phase to make the large task of completing construction less overwhelming. She is pleased with donations that exceeded her expectations and helped move construction progress along to complete the shell of Phase Two, which is located toward the back half of the building.

The in-between phase would include raising $500,000 to complete about half of Phase Two in order to get all the dogs, large and small, under one roof. Since the larger dogs create more laundry, the planned laundry room in the back of the building would also need to be completed right away. The logistics of keeping both facilities open is quite difficult for workers and animal care.

“We knew it was going to be difficult to have the two locations open, even though we’d have more space, but we underestimated how difficult it was really going to be having the dogs under two different roofs,” Perry said. “That means the logistics are tough not only to bring them to the new building for adoption but also the fact that the care is still all over at the old building. Disconnect is just not ideal between the two locations. It would be best for animal care and people care to keep things together.”

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities abound at the new facility, Perry said. There is a new front lobby greeter position open. Anybody filling that position will greet visitors and help direct them to the correct person or room to get what they need. Perry hopes volunteers will be able to enhance their experiences at the new facility by finding the exact position that works best for them and feeling good about giving back to the animals. One way volunteers can enjoy their experiences more is by walking the animals on the new mowed trails surrounding the 18-acre property.

“There are more options for folks who can only handle small dogs,” she said. “There is plenty of space and availability, and this should no longer be a defeating experience to walk through the larger dogs that they might not have been able to care for. Instead they enter a room full of small dogs they are able care for while also knowing that the larger dogs have great care at the same time, so this will hopefully be more pleasant for them.”

The Relief of a New Building

The original shelter, located at 3551 South Highway 67, Elkhorn, was built to accommodate less than 30 percent of its current animal population. Despite several renovations and additions to extend its life, a new shelter was necessary to provide proper housing, veterinary care and socialization for the 3,000 cats and dogs the shelter takes in annually from Walworth County.

“It’s definitely a relief to have gotten this far with the project already, and the immediate impact here is that there’s much more space to service the people and have them be able to be in better accommodations when they meet the animals,” Perry said. “Our message with the rest of it is in order to be the most efficient with our resources and get everybody under one roof and to do it right, we need some help to finish it off.”

We Need Your Help!

Naming rights for much of Phase Two are still available. Perry invites people to visit and see the new adoption center and experience the differences between the old facility and the new facility. Her hope is that people will not only come forward to volunteer their time and talents at the shelter but also might give, and encourage others to give, financial contributions to complete the remainder of the project.

“We are overwhelmed and appreciative of those who helped us get Phase One done,” she said. “It’s so great that’s it’s open and functioning and we really want people to come in and visit. We also want to show people what we still have left to do. We’d like to show them that we can possibly do an in-between phase with half a million dollars and get everything under one roof.”

Lakeland Animal Shelter is very active in the Walworth County area, making it even more crucial that community members step up with donations to finish construction. The shelter provides animal care and control services for all of Walworth County. That means Perry and her staff takes in any stray cats or dogs as well as surrendered animals when owners are unable to care for them any longer. Housing, feed, water, veterinary services and socialization are all provided for those animals, bringing the monthly cost to $65,000 for the roughly 250 animals taken in monthly.

For more information or to donate, please visit www.lakelandanimalshelter.org or call 262-723-1000.