SPCA opens new shelter in Concord, expands its capacity for animals
The niece of Catherine Zannerini of Barnstead welcomes the new extended family pet Ginger as her family waits to leave with the first adoption at the new facility on Silk Farm Road in Concord on Tuesday, April 15, 2014.
Ginger waits for her new family as paperwork is being processed for her adoption at the SPCA Tuesday, April 16, 2014 at the new facility on Silk Farm Road in Concord
Richard Levin fo Tewksbury, Mass plays with Bailey through a glass door Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at the new SPCA building on Silk Farm Road.
Bailey didn't like to come near Levin until he took off his hat and then they became fast friends playing fetch with Bailey's toys.
The staff of the SPCA start bringing in chairs into a classroom at the SPCA facility on Silk Farm Road Tuesday, April 15, 2104 in Concord.
When Catherine Zannerini’s family pulled the car into the parking lot of the new Pope Memorial SPCA of Merrimack County on Tuesday, she was confused.
Zannerini thought they were just going to lunch. Instead, her relatives were bringing the retired Tewskbury, Mass., resident to meet Ginger, the 6-year-old Corgi-terrier mix they secretly picked out for her at the shelter last weekend.
She stuck her fingers under the glass door of Ginger’s kennel, clicking her tongue at the small brown-and-white dog who was already looking up at her with adoring eyes.
“I love her already,” Zannerini said, and Ginger gave her hand a little lick.
When Zannerini took Ginger home with her that day, the
dog became the first animal adopted from the new SPCA shelter at 94 Silk Farm Road in Concord. The new building opened this week, the product of a $2.9 million fundraising campaign to replace an aging shelter in Penacook.
Cheryl Kimball, director of development and communications, walked through the new 8,000-square-foot shelter Tuesday, the first day it was open for adoptions. She pointed to amenities unheard of at the old 5,000-square-foot building from the 1950s, which had previously been used as a chicken coop and a carriage house.
“These are the things that are changing our world,” Kimball said.
Around one corner is a big room where a visitor could meet a prospective pet or where the SPCA could host group events.
“We could have some classes, obedience classes,” Kimball said. “We had nowhere to do that.”
Another door leads to a small room where a pet owner could privately surrender his or her animal to be adopted. In the old shelter, a small lobby was the only space where a visitor could meet or give up an animal.
“Someone could be happy, happy, adopting their new pet, and someone could be sad surrendering their pet,” Kimball said.
Then there are the “kitten condos,” Kimball said, right next to a community cat room for roaming and stretching. There are large dog kennels with glass doors, where a 6-year-old golden Lab named Layla waited to be spayed. That procedure would be performed in an on-site clinic, which had previously been run out of a converted kitchen in the old shelter. Everything is hooked into an air filtration system designed to help prevent the spread of diseases.
Kimball was even giddy while showing a large storage room, which replaced what volunteers called “the scary closet” in the old shelter.
“We’ve almost doubled our capacity for animals. . . . We have around 1,500 animals go through the shelter in a year. We assume that will be more now that we . . . have more space,” Kimball said.
Even though the shelter is open for business, it isn’t quite operational yet. While the dogs and one hamster named Nabisco – the words “No fingers” were written as a warning on a piece of paper outside his cage – have moved in, all adoptable cats are still at Petco or PetSmart. They’ll arrive sometime next week, Kimball said. The administration building next door is also still under construction. In a room for doing laundry and washing some of the animals, a little sign that read “No outfit is complete without cat hair” waited to be hung on the wall.
But the nonprofit has been planning for a new shelter for years and purchased the land on Silk Farm Road in 2008. The capital campaign began in 2012 and raised close to $3 million, mostly in donations. For Kimball and others, this building is a long time coming.
“We’re so excited, we really like it,” Kimball said. “It really speaks to the compassion of the region to support this level of animal shelter.”
Animal care technician Jess Helfenstein has worked at the local SPCA for 11 years.
“Everything in this building is what we needed for many, many years,” she said.
Ginger’s stay at the new shelter was brief, but she didn’t seem to mind. Helfenstein clipped a leash on her collar as Zannerini waited for her new pet in the lobby.
“You ready to go home?” Helfenstein asked the little dog.
Tongue out and yipping happily, Ginger bounced toward her new owner.
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)