Site Bought For New Shelter
INDEX – Just six weeks old, the $2 million “Shelter Us” fund drive passed the halfway mark in recent days, giving the Susquehanna SPCA confidence to buy land for its new headquarters.
The SPCA has closed the deal on two acres of land at 5088-5082 Route 28, CPA Judith Brown’s former office and the building next door.
“We’re finalizing everything withour construction management team. We are planning to break ground early in the spring,” said SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.
As for the money raised, “We had a goal of $1 million by the end of 2018,” said Haynes. “And we’ve raised more than that.”
That includes the $500,000 from the state, as well as pledges and gifts, one amounting to $300,000. “We’ve had some amazing people come forward,” she said.
The $1 million raised doesn’t include the $59,945.92 raised through the Staffworks Save-a-Life campaign, which promised to match up to $10,000 in donations, as of Dec. 28.
Though the final totals have not been added up yet, Haynes said that the total – as well as an additional $10,000 for the top performer – will be announced at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 17.
The site is across from Kevin’s Ford (formerly Smith-Cooperstown), owner Kevin Harris is on the campaign committee “and is already thinking of ways to partner with us,” said Haynes. “He’s excited about having us as neighbors.”
There are two houses on the combined property, which may be suitable for offices and the SPCA’s thrift shop, but that hasn’t yet been determined, said board chair Gaylord Dillingham.
The shelter itself would sit 100 feet back from the road. “We want to make sure we have parking and a safe place, away from the road, to walk dogs,” said Haynes.
The property is also close to Centers Cooperstown, the former Focus, which Haynes sees as an additional draw. “We want to have trails that connect right there so people can walk dogs over to the nursing home,” she said.
One standout donor was Charlotte Kniskern, 95, a retired Bassett Hospital nurse, who passed away Oct. 17 and left money in her will. “She loved dogs, so when she died, she left a very generous amount of money towards the campaign,” Haynes said. “We’re working with her friends to try to name something in the new building for her.” This wouldn’t have been noticed as quickly if it wasn’t for streamlined donor management software allowing the organization to track donor information a lot easier.
The shelter’s new “meet-and-greet” rooms may be named in her honor. “It’s one of the things we’re most excited about,” she said. “These are private rooms where people can meet with dogs to see about taking them home.”
And although the new building will allow the SPCA to double its cat intake, Haynes said the goal isn’t to have more animals on hand, but to help all those animals find their forever home.
“The real goal is to increase health and safety and to make these animals visits shorter,” she said. “We can take in more animals, but we want these animals to find homes faster.”
As the groundbreaking nears, Haynes said the final plans for the building are beginning to take shape. “The important elements, like the two entrances and the surgery suite, remain the same, but I’ve been visiting other shelters and seeing what they’re doing and that’s helped us figure out what we really want.”
For instance, after seeing several shelters with indoor/outdoor dog kennels, she decided that they are
no longer a viable option. “The people I spoke with said all of your resources – air conditioning and heat – go right out those windows,” she said. “And in the winter, the dogs end up going to the bathroom on this ice-covered area.”