On the morning of March 15, the WCAHS Animal Shelter located on the south side of Spooner was nearly ready to be open to the public. The very special animals being housed there had been taken care of, from the dogs being walked, kennels and litter boxes cleaned, food and water dishes filled, to clean blankets being tucked in so naps could be taken. The lights were on, the furnace was working, the parking area was a bit sloppy from the early Spring weather, and the excitement of the day would be someone coming in to share time with these lovable creatures and, hopefully, adopt one of them.
The next morning, however, was a much different scene as, in the early morning hours of March 16, 2017, fire had destroyed this 17-year old shelter on Cottonwood Avenue which, over those years, had 10,000 animals come through its door.
An indescribable, unforgettable, and bittersweet year has now passed. What took place throughout that one human year, which seemed like one dog year, was much thinking, meeting, planning, organizing, fundraising, sustaining a temporary shelter, and then purchasing and renovating a building on the north side of Spooner, which will open in a couple months. And, at that time, there will be a tail wagging, whisker licking, purrfect celebration of this new Washburn County Area Humane Society Animal Shelter!
This shelter will not only provide an accessible home for many animals to go through its doors, just as the old shelter did, but it will also provide the opportunity for those who would like to spend time with the animals by being a working volunteer, a drop in and play volunteer, or a guest who would like to use the meeting room or have a birthday party with or without a few animals as part of the deal, or even possibly a yoga class with cats!
Fortunately, the amount of insurance coverage helped to pay rent for a temporary shelter and a storage unit for salvageable leftovers from the fire-damaged shelter for a limited period of time, and provided a good base for the purchase of the 1300 Round House Road building. The benefits of purchasing the building on this large lot with a storage building included was that it was half the cost, twice the size, and renovation would take half the time vs. building a new structure. With the money already donated to the Fire Fund and the possibility of meeting the goal of the newly developed Capital Campaign Fund, plus the Amazon wish list items, and donations so many generous WCAHS supporters continue to give, this newly established shelter will be an efficiently built and appropriately furnished facility to be proud of and be a part of.
The trenching in the dog kennel area has been completed and pre-built dog kennels will be installed in the adoption area and concrete block kennels will be used in the dog receiving and isolation rooms. Building Contractor, Bob Swan, has advised that he is in the process of putting up the walls dividing the areas into the dog isolation, drop-off, and adoption rooms, hallways, exam room, laundry/storage room, and the cat isolation and drop-off rooms. The electrical and plumbing process follows. The cat colony area has been cleared and is ready for wall finishing, kennels, and the cat playground furnishings. The wall painting and flooring installation where necessary will follow. The outside dog runs and catios, fencing, and remaining concrete work will come when weather permits.
Oh, what an unforgettable year it has been!