Officials envision a community center as attractive to pet lovers as it is accessible. Their capital campaign will determine when they break ground, but staff and board members hope it happens within the next few years.
The Humane Society is purchasing the 9.7-acre parcel at 8506 W. Overland Road, about a quarter mile west of Walmart.
The existing 27,000-square-foot shelter, built in 1997, is on the south side of the Boise Airport. Almost 100 people work there, and staff offices and programs have spilled into nearby trailers.
The Humane Society opened an adoption center at PetSmart near Boise Towne Square in fall 2011. Now, about a third of all adoptions occur at the PetSmart center.
"It's right in the retail heart of the Valley," Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, executive director of the Idaho Humane Society, said.
Animal shelters in general face a public perception that they are sad places.
"You'll often hear from people, 'I'd like to get a new dog or cat, but I don't want to go out to the shelter because it's so sad. I want to take them all home,' " Rosenthal said. "We are saving so many more animals than we once did. For so many animals, it's a happy ending."
A renaissance in shelter design in recent years is making it more pleasant for the animals and those who adopt them. Just as zoos went away from concrete and bars, shelters are developing housing and meeting spaces that reduce noise, odor and stress.
The cost of renovating the existing shelter would be more than building new, Rosenthal said, who declined to give any cost estimates.
The vision for the new Humane Society campus would include a 40,000-square-foot main shelter, about a fourth of which would house a veterinary hospital. Three other buildings planned for the initial phase are an education center, an open-air pavilion for dog-training and events, and a dog-adoption center.
Later phases might include a dormitory for veterinary students, a wildlife rehabilitation hospital, livestock housing, an animal food and supply warehouse, and grooming and boarding facilities.
The Idaho Humane Society is buying the former farm owned by the Margaret Fleck Trust.
Rosenthal, who declined to release what the nonprofit is paying, said the search for a suitable site near the heart of the city was lengthy because its list of criteria that included a minimum of eight acres and irrigation rights.
The property is zoned residential - an old house that will be torn down - but it is surrounded by city properties, all of which are zoned for commercial use.
Shelter officials have filed an application seeking to have the property annexed and rezoned.
The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the group's application at 6 p.m. on May 6, in the State Capitol, 700 W. Jefferson St.
What will happen to the current shelter? Rosenthal said it will continue to be used for intake and sheltering of stray animals and for animal-control offices.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413