I HEAR AWA IS BEING RE-BUILT!
Animal Welfare Association is one of the busiest animal shelters in the region. But because the current 5,000 sq. ft. building is both too small and deteriorating, it is unable to fully serve the pets and people of our region.
Built in 1966, the shelter building has admirably done its job. However, AWA’s day-to-day sheltering operations are now constantly impeded by space shortages, an inefficient layout, and deteriorating building conditions.
It’s time for AWA to have a fresh start so that it can continue to achieve its vision to create “A Place Where Happiness Begins” by helping to create a compassionate community, by serving as a resource for pet lovers/pet owners in need, and by envisioning achieving zero tolerance for companion animals needlessly suffering and dying in our South Jersey community.
The old 5,000 sq. ft. building will be replaced by a new 25,000 sq. ft. animal care and education center. Some of the features of the new building will be:Ø A welcoming lobby with soundproofed areas throughout the facility.
Ø Increased kennel and cage space, enabling AWA to care for so many more pets in need.
Ø Quiet, separate areas to allow pets to adjust when they first arrive at the shelter.
Ø “Real life” rooms for dogs and “community rooms” for cats.
Ø “Get Acquainted” rooms for pets and people to get to know each other better.
Ø A Kitten Nursery for the very fragile, little baby kittens.
Ø Increased community educational/training programs and services.
Ø A fully equipped classroom…..and so much more
We originally expected groundbreaking to begin in early 2020, but in March when COVID-19 hit, everything shut down and after eight months we are finally back on track. The Pet Clinic moved into the temporary onsite trailer in August, allowing the shelter to move into the Pet Clinic building. We held a small ceremonial groundbreaking event on September 14th with board members and the construction team. Demolition of the old shelter finally began on October 19. Once the old building is cleared the site will be prepared for construction to begin.
COVID-19 and the accompanying shutdown resulted in an eight-month delay to the start of the project. This delay will force AWA to operate out of temporary spaces longer than anticipated, resulting in an increase in costs.
WHAT ABOUT AWA'S SHELTER SERVICES?
Don’t worry the animals are safe, during the tear-down of the current shelter/adoption center, as well as during construction of the new building, shelter animals and adoption services will be moved into the current public clinic building. In addition, some shelter animals will be housed in foster homes, and others, with community partner organizations.
We are aware this will seem like substantial change to how AWA traditionally operates, but never underestimate AWA’s creativity and problem-solving ability.
Taking care of animals entrusted to our shelter was, is and always will be AWA’s top priority. AWA will be sure to inform the community when preparations are underway for making this transition.
Shelter pets always need the love of new families. That need continues whether they are sheltered in a traditional building or if they have new temporary quarters. Interested adopters will still find wonderful pets to bring into their homes. Information about adoptable pets will be available on our website.
As you know, at AWA we strive to help keep pets with their families. We do this through our counseling programs and a variety of other services and support. However, if a family can no longer maintain the care of its pet, relinquishment to AWA is available. The usual processes will continue. Please check our website for details.
AWA values its collaboration with all of the transport partners. But as with all other aspects of our transition, we will have to do things a bit differently until construction is completed – and we will have to learn the best way as we go.
For example, we might plan on fewer animals transported at any one time, but with more frequent transports. We know we will need to rely on dedicated foster care volunteers to help temporarily house dogs and cats in need. Other creative ideas will unfold as we see what works and what doesn’t….but that is part of AWA’s can-do spirit!
At this time, we don’t anticipate any change in when the relocated shelter will be open. The hours/days currently are: Tuesday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
If this changes we will be sure to update the community through our website, awanj.org, and other social media sites.
WHAT ABOUT VETERINARY SERVICES?
As with all of AWA’s programs and services during the transition, the Pet Clinic will remain open, but will operate on a more limited basis, housed in a double-wide on AWA property. Some services will be outsourced.
AWA is committed to preventing pet overpopulation through providing affordable spay/neuter surgeries. However, COVID-19 has required changes to AWA’s spay/neuter procedures. Clients will need to sign-up for a specific waitlist online, once appointments are available notification will be sent via email. Waitlist sign-up .
Because of our temporary space constraints, AWA will offer special days and times for clients to schedule basic exams.
However, any condition that requires ongoing care and treatment will be referred to one of the veterinary practices that have agreed to serve as a resource for AWA clients.
On any day that AWA is providing Affordable Fix spay/neuter surgeries, our rescue partners will be able to access our services as they have in the past.
Once COVID-19 allows, we will schedule days for Feral-Fix-It, Rescue-Fix, Fix-It Cat, SniPit, and the outreach program into Camden. As these dates are placed on the calendar, they will be shared with the community via our website, awanj.org, and other social media sites.
Vaccine Days take place on Mondays and select Saturdays. View schedule for date and time. No appointment is needed, clients will be helped on a first come-first served basis. Upon arrival you will take a number and registration form.
AWA will inform the community – well in advance – if changes occur.
WHAT ABOUT VOLUNTEERS?
Volunteers are the heart of AWA, and their creativity and commitment will always be needed. But involvement in any construction project requires patience and adaptability to changing needs.
Here is what we know so far.
Ø While volunteers are always needed to help with shelter pets, there is a greater need for foster care volunteers, caring for dogs, cats, and small animals in their homes, on a temporary basis.
Ø Preparation space for preparing enrichment items will not exist so we will need volunteers to do enrichment projects at home and then bring them to AWA.
Ø Our commercial washers and dryers will be placed in storage. That means we will need volunteers to take laundry to a commercial laundry or take it home and bring back to AWA.
o This will also apply to non-disposable food dishes and water bowls.
Ø Since our on-site presence will necessarily shrink, there will be a greater need for Outreach volunteers to assist with:
o Adoption outreach events
o Off-site clinic services
o Community events
o Humane Education, and
o Pet Therapy Programs.
As changes occur, AWA’s volunteer and outreach coordinator will keep all potential and active volunteers informed about how to best help our animals and organization. Information and training sessions will be held to learn about the progress of the new building, along with programs that will be adjusted or added.
If you can think of another creative way to help as a volunteer, please share it with us ([email protected])
WHAT ABOUT AWA'S PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN?
AWA loves working with children, and we know how important it is for children to learn, early in life, about the importance of the pet-people connection. Because space will be limited, and construction is always messy, tours will not be possible during that time. However, we are working with our humane education and volunteer staff to bring our programs into the community once it is safely possible.
Watch our website, awanj.org, for updates regarding program changes due to COVID-19.
WHAT ABOUT DONATIONS?
Pet food and other supplies are always needed. AWA uses these donations to assist with our care of shelter animals, but also shares with community members in need and local rescue groups.
WHAT ABOUT ABOUT THE COSTS OF THE NEW BUILDING?
AWA is projecting the makeover will cost more than $6M. This figure includes:
Ø Hard costs:
o Materials, labor, site work, wiring, security, curbing, paving, etc.;
Ø Soft costs:
o Architects, engineers, permitting, insurance, contingencies, etc.;
Ø Furniture and fixtures:
o While AWA will strive to use many items from the existing facility, the reality is that many items have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced;
Ø Specialized equipment and mechanics:
o Flooring, air flow, cages, noise reduction, commercial washers and dryers – and so much more – are needed to keep the environment healthy and safe for all who enter out buildings.
As usual, AWA is relying on its friends to fund this much needed renovation. Individual donors like you, in combination with foundations and companies, will make this dream a reality. To learn more about the Capital Campaign, and how you can help, please follow this link.