Work progressing on new animal shelter

Pictured, the new Helping Strays facility is being built off Hanover Road north of Waterloo. (Spencer Michelson photo)

In March, Helping Strays Humane Society of Monroe County broke ground on its new facility off Hanover Road. The project remains on track to be completed by Feb. 14, 2016.

“They erected the sides and once they put the actual steel up, it will look like an actual building,” Helping Strays executive director Deb Dubis Foster said. “I think that’s what everybody was waiting for. Everybody was thinking for a while that we were the public storage. They were like, ‘Are those the dog kennels?’ and I would say, ‘No! That’s public storage.’ So, we are just waiting for that.”

Dubis Foster did indicate the facility may not be ready to open in February 2016. That’s just the date Calhoun Construction said the building will be ready to move into.

“We’ll probably do a ribbon-cutting once the weather warms up,” Dubis Foster said. “Then, we’ll do a grand opening after several months when we have our systems in place and we know how to make sure to control disease and flow. Once we’re in and it’s capable of saving animals, we’re going to start saving animals.”

The organization is still saving animals at its current facility, which is south of Waterloo on Route 3, but currently can’t hold dogs.

“We’re again down because we had an outbreak of a virus,” Dubis Foster said. “Every time that happens, because we have no quarantine and we have no isolation, the whole shelter gets shut down. Fortunately, for dogs and cats, this disease is only for dogs. We’re open for cats.”

HSMC is utilizing foster homes for all dogs in its care. Even with the new building, they will continue to use foster families. Dubis Foster said using foster families helps with adoptions. People can get a better read on dogs kept in homes, rather than in cages.

“What we mainly do, the animals that are our first priority are animals in Monroe County Animal Control,” Dubis Foster said. “That’s where we pull. Any animal that’s in there, if it’s friendly and it’s adoptable, we’ll pull it out. Even if it has a health issue or not. Since we are on lockdown right now, we can’t pull them and take them to the shelter, so we’re trying to take them straight to foster homes.”

The new facility will keep outbreaks of viruses at bay. Although it doesn’t guarantee there won’t be an outbreak, prevention will be higher.

“When an animal arrives they’ll be examined, chipped, cleaned and groomed. Then, it will go into quarantine for 14 days. Once they’re out they’ll go to the kennel area,” Dubis Foster said. “So, if someone breaks, they’ll go straight to isolation and then get quarantined again. Again, it doesn’t prevent it. Even the cleanest, best shelters still get (outbreaks). But this will at least help. We have kennel cough. We were open a week, pulled in some animals from a different shelter and that brought in a disease. So, now we’re shut down again.”

HSMC has 27 dogs, eight puppies, 19 cats and 33 kittens under its care or with a foster family as of this month.

The new building will have an area for up to 30 dogs, 60 cats, a small dog room and puppy area.

The organization is still accepting donations. It has a $600,000 loan to pay off on the building.

In order to donate, or seek more information, visit or call 618-282-PETS.

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