Pets

The Idaho Humane Society broke ground on a new shelter 2 years ago. When will it open?

New chapter for Idaho Humane Society

Rescue dogs and gold shovels were on hand for Idaho Humane Society's groundbreaking at 8506 W. Overland Road in Boise.
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Rescue dogs and gold shovels were on hand for Idaho Humane Society's groundbreaking at 8506 W. Overland Road in Boise.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the Idaho Humane Society’s new adoption center off of Overland Road, and the staff is now aiming for a September opening.

Work began on the campus near Walmart, directly behind Goodwill, in July 2017. The building faces South Bird Street.

Officials at the shelter initially hoped to open the facility last fall, and then targeted early this summer, but getting contractors during the recent construction boom in the Treasure Valley made that impossible, Idaho Humane Society Chief Development Officer Jimmy Hillig told the Statesman.

“There are so many projects going on,” Hillig said. “Everyone is having the same problem.”

The 42,000-square-foot building is also a complex structure, he said. It will house the shelter, veterinary hospital, an education classroom and administrative offices.

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Crews are finishing up exterior work at the Idaho Humane Society’s new campus on Overland Road. This is the front door to the facility. Katy Moeller kmoeller@idahostatesman.com

The animal welfare group, which is the oldest and largest in the state, took in about 11,700 animals in fiscal year 2018, including more than 1,000 transferred in from other shelters. The demand for dogs is so high in the Valley that the shelter has had no trouble finding homes for the transfers from out of state.

The cost for the first phase of the new campus is an estimated $15 million. About $13.5 million has been raised so far, all from private donations. Contributions to the capital campaign, called Designed to be Kind, can be made online.

Last year, the Idaho Humane Society sold a piece of the 10-acre site — the section closest to Overland Road — to a developer that’s putting in a car wash. Hillig said the group didn’t want to be right on the busy street.

While crews were doing exterior work Monday, some shelter staffers were getting acquainted with their new offices. Soon employees will be given an initiation on utilization of the new building, Hillig said.

“We’re working on the small detail pieces inside the facility right now, and that takes time considering this isn’t some sort of standard building,” Hillig said. “Animal shelters are complicated structures with complex drain and HVAC systems.”

The nonprofit suffered a setback earlier this year, when smoke from a storage unit fire damaged 38 brand-new chairs, as well as some file cabinets and shelves. Generous IHS supporters have already stepped up to replace that furniture, Hillig said.

Bigger but gentler animal shelter

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The front of the new adoption center features seven “catios,” or outdoor areas for cats. Katy Moeller kmoeller@idahostatesman.com

The new shelter will be more centrally located and about 15,000 feet larger than the current site at 4775 Dorman St., near the Boise Airport.

It’s designed to be more hospitable to potential adopters — many of whom have said they find the Dorman Street site depressing — and less stressful for the animals passing through on their way to new homes. In real terms that means larger, cleaner and quieter kennels, natural light and access to outdoors.

It will have 72 dwellings for cats and eight “catios,” or screened patios. The catios were built into the front of the building, near the entrance.

There will be 70 dog kennels, grouped in seven areas, with two indoor play yards and 12 outdoor yards.

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The rear of the new Idaho Humane Society building has numerous dog runs. Katy Moeller kmoeller@idahostatesman.com

Second phase: dog park, education center

In the second phase of the project, land west of the main building will be developed. That phase will include a building that will house an education center and animal control operations, as well as a large dog park.

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The undeveloped lot on the west side of the Idaho Humane Society’s new campus on Overland Road will be part of phase II of the project. That will be the site of a dog park and building for animal control and humane education.

The Idaho Humane Society plans to consolidate its operations at the new campus but that will take years, Hillig said.

In the meantime, all animal intake will be handled at the Dorman Street site — so if you find a stray or need to relinquish a pet, that’s where you should go. Animal control will continue to operate out of that site, too, until the second phase of the campus is finished.

The shelter has a 90 percent placement rate for dogs and 70 percent for cats, shelter data show. They also adopt out other animals, including birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and rats.

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