To renovate or rebuild? St. Thomas considers future of animal care
The city-operated St. Thomas Animal Shelter has been slated for a $400,000 renovation for several years, but now a civic committee is recommending the plan change to a total rebuild in a new location.
Right now the organization is located in a converted storage building once used by city services, with a loud and busy factory next door on Burwell Street. Neither is positive for the shelter.
Joan Rymal, a city councillor and committee member, says the planned renovation does not meet the future needs of the animals or the city.
So she’s supporting a report to build a new shelter on city-owned land along Southdale Line, which is currently used as a soccer field.
Rymal says the field will no longer be needed with the new sports facility being constructed in the city.
However, the price tag to build an animal shelter on the spot is far more than the $400,000 already set aside for a renovation.
Rymal says it will cost $1 million, but the benefits, beyond the noise, would be numerous for the shelter.
At present cats and dogs are housed in rooms, right next to each other, often making both species unhappy.
Further, the dog pens in the shelter have no pet doors to the outside, which is a problem for both staff and the animals, says staff member Nicole Cassel.
She believes a new shelter would fix the problem, "That way if we have any dogs who are nervous, we can help them so they can go in and out as they please. It also keeps staff safe."
The new shelter would also improve crowded runs and provide a park-like setting, instead of a parking lot, for prospective owners and animals to bond.
If support grows for a capital campaign, Rymal believes construction on the shelter could be underway within one to two years.
She even half-joked with CTV News about asking some newly famous residents to help.
“You know we had someone in St. Thomas win $26 million, so that would be a heck of a donation. I don't know if they're animal lovers, but it would certainly benefit the community."