By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – At the Susquehanna SPCA’s new shelter, not only will you be able to see the difference, you’ll be able to smell it too.
“Dogs communicate through smell,” said Andrew Schuster, principal architect with Ashley McGraw, Syracuse. “To keep stress levels down, every dog will have a separately ‘exhausted’ kennel to ensure odor privacy, so that you don’t have a lot of barking.”
The new shelter is rapidly rising on the new campus on Route 28, across from Kevin’s Royal Ford.
“When I walked in there, I almost cried,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director. “To be able to see something tangible after all these efforts and all their support – in some ways, it’s hard to believe!”
Ground-breaking was in August 2019, and completion is on track for late April.
“There have been some delays on the supply side due to COVID,” said Haynes. “But where they can’t work on one project, they work on another.”
Walls have been put up and trusses have been placed on both the shelter and the thrift store; the elaborate plumbing network was installed before the slab was poured. Each pen has its own drainage system for easy cleaning and waste removal. Drains are also in place
for surgical sinks, laundry and bathrooms.
“It’s a challenge to approach this building in designing it for animals,” said Schuster. “Most building codes are designed for people, so trying to determine, for instance, where to place toilet fixtures, is a bit of a challenge!”
Schuster, whose firm specializes in sustainable buildings, said he paid special attention to insulation and air tightness to minimize mold and prioritize air circulation and quality.
“Normally, HVAC is a third of the cost of a project,” said Rick Bliss, project manager for William H. Lane Construction’s Cooperstown office. “But with this building, it’s half our cost.”
“It will be a very healthy place to visit,” said Haynes. “Especially during a pandemic.”
In addition to the reduction in odor, the pens will also be two-part, separated by a “doggie door.”
“This gives dogs an opportunity to relieve themselves someplace other than their living space,” said Haynes.
In the event that the shelter takes in multiple animals at a time – for instance, Haynes says, a dog hoarding case – the doors can be closed, dividing the kennel in two.
The room will also have windows to let in natural light, with the lower sill high enough so dogs can’t see any squirrels that may go running past.
“That will also cut down on barking,” said Schuster.
The SQSPCA set a $5 million goal in its “Shelter Us” campaign, and so far, has raised $4.6 million towards the goal.
“The idea is to enter our new building without debt so that we have more resources to put towards our animals,” said Haynes. “Having a mortgage and having to allocate some of our budget: That is Plan B.”
The closure of the thrift store at the height of the pandemic put a strain on the budget, but Haynes said she was touched by the ongoing contributions to their fundraising efforts.