NY Animal Shelters Prepare For Upgrades

Feb 11, 2019

A number of animal shelters across New York state are using state support and large fundraising campaigns to update and upgrade their facilities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced $4.5 million in state funding for 13 animal shelters in New York. The New York State Companion Animal Capital Fund is the first state-funded program in the country designed to support improvements and upgrades at local animal shelters.

The Stevens-Swan Humane Society of Oneida County in Utica is receiving $373,500 from the fund to expand its animal control holding center and medical facilities. While the shelter doesn’t provide medical services to the public, it does handle the vast majority of procedures – spaying, neutering, microchips – faced by its residents. With roughly 120 cats and 75 dogs, Manager John Treen says the shelter’s growing population is difficult to serve.

“We have a limited space and a limited area as far as, you know, ‘I have three dogs that are coming in to get spayed, what do I have for a recovery cage?’” says Treen. “So this is gonna open up that area to make more recovery cages, so we can do more spays and neuters, more dentals – we could possibly have two doctors at the same time in a double suite doing multiple things at multiple times – and really just updating that area in general.”

The expansion would roughly double the size of the current medical facility. Plans include new surgery tables, oxygen machines, surgery packs, and more. Treen hopes construction and purchasing of the equipment will be done by the end of the year.

“It’s just awesome when you can do something like this – and it doesn’t come around every day that you get money like this to do something in a non-profit organization,” Treen notes. “It’s definitely heading in the right direction.”

The Susquehanna SPCA in Cooperstown was awarded $500,000 as part of the Companion Animal Capital Fund in 2018. The money was critical in helping the shelter surpass the halfway mark for its $2 million “Shelter Us” campaign to build a new facility. The shelter moved into its current location, a former motorcycle shop, in the 1990s. Stacie Haynes is its Executive Director.

“When you have poor ventilation in these kind of places, and you have 60 animals, 60 cats under one roof in one area, they tend to get things like upper-respiratory infections,” Haynes explains. “With something like proper ventilation that has been strategically sought out, these things are greatly diminished.”

The new facility will have a fresh air ventilation system, as well as a sterile surgery suite and recovery unit. It will also have two separate entrances: one for those visiting and adopting animals, and another for those relinquishing one. As dropping off an animal can be traumatic, Haynes says it’s important for people to be comfortable in order to get as much information as possible about the pet to help it get adopted. She recalls an experience when the current one-entrance facility hampered that.  

“So this young man was absolutely devastated to have to give this animal up. And at the same time in the same room, someone is adopting a dog,” says Haynes. “And so they’re so excited, and they’re happy, and they’re bringing home a new family member – and they’re an arm’s length away.”

While the new shelter is still in the design phase, the Susquehanna SPCA closed on a new location roughly a mile down the road from its current building. It plans to break ground this spring. Haynes says a big way people can help is by, of course, donating – but also by simply stopping by.

“We are really encouraging to come and visit us, because we think it’s so exciting to think that [supporters] can come see the ‘before,’ and then in a year and a half or so, come walk through the new shelter and see exactly what their donations helped accomplish,” Haynes notes.

Also among those receiving funds in 2019 are the Westchester Humane Society and the Montgomery County SPCA, both granted $500,000. The Westchester Humane Society in New Rochelle plans to add a new facility for animal socialization and community education. The Montgomery County SPCA funds will go toward a new facility in Amsterdam.