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Concord-Merrimack SPCA raises $1 million for new shelter

The Concord-Merrimack County SPCA is halfway to its $2 million fundraising goal to build a new animal shelter in Concord.

Construction will begin this spring, said Executive Director Heather Faria, with hopes of moving into a new building at the corner of Silk Farm Road and Clinton Street by the end of this year. The new site would replace the Penacook shelter, which Faria said is too small and outdated to properly care for animals.

The nonprofit has talked of a new shelter for years and purchased its property on Silk Farm Road in 2008. But reaching the $1 million goal this month has allowed the group to move forward and plan to begin construction.

“We’re really excited to let people know that it’s really happening,” Faria said.

At the old farmhouse and converted chicken coop in Penacook that serve as the group’s shelter, cat cages are stacked on top of one another and dogs bark from dimly lit kennels. One day last week, a litter of 7-week-old puppies slept in a narrow laboratory room. Their mother, a black Lab, was pregnant when she arrived.

The new building will include a “kitten suite” and flexible areas that could be used as puppy nurseries when needed, Faria said.

“It needs to be flexible because the needs change day to day,” she said.

The organization launched a capital campaign last year to raise money for its new home. In September, Banks Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick-GMC presented the SPCA with $54,000. Other donations have come from businesses, longtime supporters and animal lovers, said SPCA board member Chase Binder, who writes a travel column for the Monitor.

The SPCA is working with Cobb Hill Construction and Warrenstreet Architects to design the new shelter, and Faria said they will seek city approvals and permits in the coming months.

Original plans included an 11,000-square-foot facility on the 4.7-acre Silk Farm Road property, but Faria said the shelter will now be about 7,000 square feet.

“We’ve downsized a bit, partially because of being able to work with architects and builders on specific plans,” Binder said.

Faria said there will be opportunities for expansion at the new site, and the plans will still increase its capacity to house animals by about 75 percent. The animals will no longer be crowded into small rooms. Faria also thinks the shelter will receive more animals to care for once it’s in a central location.

“I think we’re going to actually see an increase in intake,” she said.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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