Humane Society holds listening session to hear input on new shelter

Humane Society holds listening session to hear input on new shelter

The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin is looking for input from the community about the design of a new shelter.

“This existing facility has outlived its usefulness,” said Brett Frazier, the Humane Society’s executive director. “The systems are far outdated compared to other shelter facilities.”

Frazier said the shelter on Arch Street was built in the 1970s, when workers there were taking in hundreds of animals a year. Frazier said the shelter now serves about 4,000 animals every year.

“We actually did a space needs analysis early in 2017 that showed that we need about 20,000 square feet,” Frazier said. “We’re operating out of about 7,000 square feet.”

The Humane Society bought a 45-acre plot of land between Janesville and Beloit at the end of 2017 and plans to build a 20,000-square-foot facility. Frazier said about 20 acres are buildable and the other 25 acres would be turned into walking trails.

“Our theory is that we want more people to come to the Humane Society more often and for more reasons,” he said.

Frazier said the shelter wants to start building the new facility as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately, we are a little bit in a race against time,” he said. “Our shelter facility here could at any point have a major systems failure and because of the way the shelter was constructed … if we had the heating and cooling system go down, if there was a major repair necessary in plumbing or electrical, we could likely be in a position to have to replace the entire system.”

Frazier said that could cost upwards of $1 million and would be wasted after the shelter moves to the new facility. He said workers will start building once they get enough donations.

“The timeline is going to depend on how quick we can raise money to do it,” Frazier said. “If in 2018, we can raise a significant portion of our goal, which we estimate at about $4.5 million, then we’ll be able to start planning a groundbreaking.”

He said the shelter has already received several donations and plans to start a capital campaign sometime this year.

In addition to having more space, Frazier said the space would be more conducive to the shelter’s needs. Instead of having the veterinary clinic in a retrofitted box truck outside the shelter, the clinic would be under the same roof as the shelter. He said there would also be isolation rooms for both dogs and cats to keep the healthy and sick animals separate. In the current shelter, Frazier said there are no isolation rooms for dogs.

“In the future, we’re hoping the new shelter will actually facilitate what we do, make us more efficient and more effective and help us save more lives and help more pets go home again,” Frazier said.

The shelter held a public input session at the building on Arch Street on Wednesday evening to give people the opportunity to share their ideas on the design for the shelter. Anyone who wants to offer input can message the Humane Society on Facebook .

“This organization has been around for more than 100 years, and so there are a lot of people who have really great recollection of things that worked and things that didn’t work from long ago and not so long ago,” Frazier said. “So those ideas that have been rattling around in people’s brains for years, now is the time to share those as we try and create the new shelter facility that will outlast all of us.”