Don’t expect the name of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley to stay the same. It’s a mouthful, and it will change when the new animal welfare center in Hailey opens some time in fall 2018.
The shelter has evolved to perform many more functions since it was established in 1982 as not much more than a pound.
“We have a long name,” acknowledged Jo-Anne Dixon, the center’s executive director and medical director. “We are going to rebrand. Our name is pretty limited. We are an animal welfare campus.”
The Animal Shelter on June 22 started construction on a new 30,000-foot-facility across the street from the existing 5,000-square-foot shelter at the mouth of a canyon just outside Hailey.
The architecture team is Animal Arts of Boulder, Colo., and Damian Farrell Design Group of Ann Arbor, Mich. McAlvain Construction of Boise is the general contractor.
“The current facility was never built for what it is currently doing,” Dixon said. “Thirty-five years ago it was just housing some stray animals. There was no medical care, no treatment, no adoptions. It’s not ADA compliant.
”If it weren’t for zip-ties and duct tape, I’m not sure the building would be standing. We have no place for our volunteers to hang their coats.”
The Animal Shelter performs more than 800 spays and neuters a year with a converted closet serving as the surgery center, she said.
With national accolades, the Animal Shelter has drawn visitors from 22 states and Canada specifically to adopt its dogs – and maybe also do some skiing or hiking, Dixon said. The shelter anticipates 655 adoptions by the end of the year.
The Animal Shelter is among 37 percent of charitable organizations accorded the top four-star rating from Charity Navigator among the 3,204 charities the Glen Rock, N.J., charity evaluator rates, said Sara Nason, marketing manager at Charity Navigator.
The shelter website says the rating is based on its financial health and transparency.
Linda Closner, an Animal Shelter volunteer for 17 years who has fostered 113 dogs over the years, said the new facility will be welcomed by human and canine alike.
“I’m so excited to get out of that duct-taped building,” Closner said. “As you can imagine, an animal shelter is very stressful for animals, staff and volunteers. Our training room doubles as a storage room. The dogs are just so stressed in that room.”
The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley in 1999 was the first Idaho animal shelter to establish a no-kill policy. It also has a food bank for animals and dog training classes. But because there is not enough space, the shelter’s administrative offices are in a separate location near Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport.
“Our real goal is to provide services all around to keep animals out of shelters and keep animals in homes,” Dixon said.
The $13.3 million new facility will be a transition from a “tiny space” where all visits start to separate entrances for clinical and adoption services. The new facility will be a U-shaped structure with a “Central Bark” outdoor area for dogs. A Cat Café will open to the back of Central Bark, Dixon said.
An “education barn” will be a classroom with space for 150 people. Dog Cabins is the modern language for the new dog kennel area.
An indoor training and acquaintance center will be adjacent to the main entrance and adoption center. The education barn and main entrance will open onto a large outdoor events patio.
The spay/neuter center will come out of the closet to a dedicated 10,000-square-foot space with two surgery tables as well as the medical clinic’s treatment rooms, intensive care, radiology and exams rooms.
“A building is just a tool,” Dixon said. “It will give us the tool and space to do it on a much better and planned way.”