BELLINGHAM - After years of making do, the Whatcom Humane Society opens the doors of its new $2.6 million shelter Wednesday, June 19.
"To say it's a long overdue project would be an understatement," said Laura Clark, executive director for Whatcom Humane Society. "We have needed a new shelter for 20-plus years. There have been starts and stops of many, many years."
The organization began its move Sunday, June 16, as it closed its Port of Bellingham-owned Williamson Way shelter, which Clark has described as "falling apart around us," as well as its county-owned Baker Creek shelter.
Consolidating those two shelters under one roof in its new 19,000-square-foot shelter will help the organization be more efficient and to provide more room and services for animals.
The new shelter includes special areas for dogs, cats, birds and small or exotic animals, as well as an expanded veterinary and surgery area for the diagnosis and treatment of animals.
In 2012, the society provided care and services for more than 4,500 animals.
Private donations are paying for the cost of the new shelter, which sits on more than 12 acres owned by the society.
"As our needs arise, we could expand and do a multitude of other things," Clark said. "It's life-changing for the organization for generations to come."
She thanked the community for its support, noting that the shelter was built on donations that range from $5 to $50,000 and up.
"It makes my heart soar," Clark said. "This is all ours and I think of all of the animals we're going to be able to help."
The $2.6 million cost of construction for the new shelter includes expenses for kennels, veterinary equipment, laundry facilities, signs and grounds work.
The space was designed by Bellingham architect Curt Carpenter, with construction managed by Ferndale contractor The Franklin Corp.
Carpenter created the space in collaboration with the UC Davis Koret School of Shelter Medicine & Design.
"We wanted to make sure that we built a shelter that was really humane and efficient for animals," Clark said.
All animals in the new shelter will have access to natural light and air, while technology and materials specific to shelters have been used for needs such as acoustics, disease control, ventilation, energy efficiency and long-term maintenance and upkeep.
The shelter's operating days also are changing. Instead of closing on Sundays and Mondays, the shelter will be closed only on Tuesdays. The new Sunday hours hopefully will increase adoptions, Clark said, while being open Mondays makes it easier on people looking for lost pets.
Donate to the remainder of Whatcom Humane Society's fundraising campaign for its new shelter as well as operations by going online to whatcomhumane.org and clicking on the "Donate Now" button. Or call 360-733-2080, ext. 3002.
The organization is $500,000 from its goal.
Whatcom Humane Society will open in its new location at 2172 Division St. in Bellingham on Wednesday, June 19, with new hours:
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
Closed Tuesday and major holidays.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.