New SPCA centre ‘like a dream’

Homeless pets will move into Red Deer & District SPCA’s new Animal Welfare and Humane Education Centre this week.

Julie McInnis

Julie McInnis

Homeless pets will move into Red Deer & District SPCA’s new Animal Welfare and Humane Education Centre this week.

And by Friday the doors to the $4.2-million facility will open to the public.

Spacious and filled with sunlight, the 12,300-square-foot centre has state of the art cleaning and kennel systems, a hospital-quality air exchange system, and thoughtful comforts for pets waiting for a forever home and people looking to adopt.

“It’s like a dream. The project kept growing and growing as the years went by because our needs were getting bigger as the city of Red Deer got bigger,” said Julie Crawford, SPCA executive director during a special preview of the centre on Monday.

Located next door to the old facility at 4505 77th St., the new centre is over four times larger than the old site with double the capacity for pets. The SPCA will be able to look after 100 to 120 cats and 30 to 35 dogs.

“We want it to be a family destination. People can come with their kids. There’s walk-through areas, free-roam areas. It’s just a whole nicer, cleaner, healthier environment.”

The new SPCA centre will be open seven days a week, running Monday to Friday until 7:30 p.m. to give the public more access.

The fully-equipped centre includes isolation rooms for sick animals, a retail shop, an education/classroom, garage, adoption and holding kennels, grooming room and more.

There’s finally an industrial washing machine, a pet tub that’s easier for staff and animals, and a dishwasher so staff no longer have to spend hours washing food bowls by hand.

The largest of the three cat community rooms will be able to hold 30 felines. It has a water fountain, cat perches hanging on the walls, places to snuggle and sleep, and a big window — with a ledge.

Cats that don’t do well in groups will be kept in other rooms where they will each have their own three-cage kitty condo with separate spaces for a litter box, food and sleeping area.

A pressure-wash system, instead of a garden hose, will keep dog kennels sparkling clean.

The SPCA also added a staff kitchen and patio to help staff deal with compassion fatigue that comes from confronting animal suffering “that no one wants to see,” said Amber Murphy, humane educator and education co-ordinator.

“Seeing it day in and day out can be very difficult. In this facility, there will be places they can go on lunches or on breaks just to get away from it and relax,” Murphy said.

The SPCA’s 300 volunteers also have a room when they come to the centre.

“I’m hoping to triple (volunteers) in the new facility. We were limited in the other facility to the amount of people who could actually physically fit into the space.”

Last year about 800 animals came to the Red Deer and District SPCA.

Fundraising efforts will continue to raise $800,000 for the construction of the new centre.