The Idaho Humane Society, the state’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization, broke ground Tuesday on a new, larger and more centrally located campus.
The new campus is at 8506 W. Overland Road — which has an average 24-hour traffic count of 38,476 vehicles. The new shelter is expected to open in the fall of 2018.
We did a quick Q & A with the shelter’s executive director, Dr. Jeff Rosenthal. His answers were edited for space and clarity.
1. The estimated cost of the project rose from $11 million to $15 million.
“The original estimate was actually based on a very early initial architectural workshop. The escalation is not due to any increase in the size of the building but due to more accurate estimating, and unfortunately due to the extremely large escalation in construction costs and materials that has occurred since planning began,” Rosenthal said.
About $1.9 million was for purchasing the property, he said, and not part of construction costs.
He said the cost of the shelter is comparable to shelters built in Spokane in 2013 ($15 million) and in 2009 in Reno ($16 million).
2. The main building at the campus will house numerous things.
There will be one building that includes the shelter, hospital, education center and administration, Rosenthal said.
The facility will be 42,000 square feet. The current shelter, built on Dorman Street near the Airport in 1997, is 27,000 square feet.
Almost 100 people work for Idaho Humane Society, and about a dozen staff are working out of trailers at the Dorman Street site because of a lack of space in the building.
3. The new shelter aims to be kinder and gentler to animals, staff and visitors.
The Idaho Humane Society hired Jackson Ryan, an architecture firm that specializes exclusively in shelter and veterinary hospital design. Their engineering firm, Design Learned, specializes exclusively in shelter and hospital systems. The principal architect is CSHQA.
“Enclosures for animals will be larger and designed to allow for more natural behaviors; allow animals to both socialize in compatible groups as well as seek seclusion and security; and allow access to outdoor space,” Rosenthal said in a grant for the project.
“Overcrowding will be eliminated by decreasing the density of housing units per room and the configuration of these areas will allow for segregation based on illness, size, ages and activity levels. State-of-art-engineering and design by experts in animal shelters will ensure vastly improved control over temperature, humidity, airflow rates, air treatment, acoustics, and sanitation,” he wrote.
4. The Idaho Humane Society will continue to operate the facility on Dorman Street.
“The current facility will also be improved in some ways and density of housing pets reduced. Intakes will occur there, while adoptions will occur at the new facility.”
The current facility can house up to 132 dogs and 112 cats, while the new shelter will be able to house up to 196 dogs and 195 cats.
5. Some veterinarians opposed the new shelter campus out of concern that the much expanded shelter hospital would impact veterinary clinics, particularly four that are close to the site.
In response, the Idaho Humane Society officials agreed in 2015 to stop providing routine care or non-emergency orthopedic surgery for pets belonging to middle-income or wealthy owners.
Rosenthal said relations with the local veterinary community are “congenial.”
“We remain in close contact through regular meetings with the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association,” he said.
The Idaho Humane Society still needs to raise another $4 million for this project, called Designed to Be Kind. Want to help? Here’s a link to donation options.