ALLEGAN — The Allegan County Animal Shelter is eyeing a big expansion, in hopes of adding much-needed space for surgery, assessments and cats.
"We're hoping to expand by putting in a modular unit, like a pre-fab building," said Jim Sellman, president of Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance, the nonprofit managing the shelter.
"The building will house a new surgical center and be home to the cats — so they won't be in the same building as the dogs, which tend to bark and stress them out. The surgical center will be an adequate size and have equipment for all types of surgeries in our skillset, rather than just spays and neuters."
That includes pre-op and post-op space. Wishbone took over management of the shelter in 2011, following a partnership that brought the county and the nonprofit together.
"Wishbone started strictly as a regular rescue in the fall of 2008," said Executive Director Susan Smith. "One of our board members was pulling dogs from the shelter for her personal rescue, and we continued that effort by taking a dog occasionally.
"We were contacted to help in a dog abuse case. They couldn't address the dog's medical needs. Out of that, our relationship just became more involved. We worked with them in trying to resolve the case, and ultimately, we asked if we could start volunteering in the shelter."
Two years later, the county approached Wishbone with a contract for management, which has been renewed every three years since. But the facility wasn't designed for Wishbone's no-kill policy, and those limitations have been a problem.
"Susan took the shelter from a 90 percent euthanization rate to a 95 percent adoption rate," Sellman said. "But they never intended to do surgery in the building. We've been using an exam room."
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Wishbone will launch a capital campaign in the coming weeks to raise money for the new building. Allegan County, meanwhile, will be responsible for demolition of the existing space.
"We're in the initial stages of working out the legality of having a building owned by Wishbone on property owned by the county," Smith said. "We're looking into builders."
Until the official campaign is announced, donations can be made at wishbonepetrescue.org. Givers can leave a note requesting their donation be used for the new facility.
— Contact reporter Cassandra Lybrink at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram @BizHolland.