SPCA getting makeover for outdoor use

A backyard makeover is planned at the Red Deer and District SPCA animal shelter to give pooches room to roam in style.

A backyard makeover is planned at the Red Deer and District SPCA animal shelter to give pooches room to roam in style.

Fundraising has already begun on the project, which could cost $20,000 to $25,000 to complete, said SPCA executive director Tara Hellewell.

The goal is to upgrade a 6,000-square-foot outdoor space behind the animal shelter by bringing in soil, seeding the area, adding fencing and lawn furniture, and setting up a memorial garden.

A shelter will also be built over kennels to protect dogs from the rain, snow and sun.

Hellewell said when the $4.2-million centre off 77th Street in Riverside Industrial Area was opened in March 2010, the rear landscaping had to be left on the to-do list.

Now, the SPCA wants to tackle that project to provide a nicer space for the dogs’ twice daily one-hour trips outside.

“It is quite an important element to the centre,” she said, adding dogs cooped up in kennels can start to develop behavioural issues.

Dubbed the Pawsitive Playzone, the project will see the backyard divided in half to create a holding area for dogs not ready for adoption.

“They can be here for weeks, sometimes months, before they become adoptable. So they need to have that free roam time as well.”

Other changes are aimed at human visitors and volunteers. Benches and shrubs will be added to spruce up the area and make it more pleasant for those visiting the centre for the birthday parties and summer camps the SPCA has been promoting as a way to raise money for the organization that has an $800,000 annual budget and celebrated a small surplus for the past year.

A memorial garden will also be created where people can remember their beloved pets with a stone marker.

To get the project rolling, about $10,000 is needed to cover the cost of hauling in the soil for grass.

A local company has offered a cut-rate price, but the SPCA is looking to see what other options are available, including offering naming rights.

“We’re hoping that corporations and individuals and maybe some families might step up. If a big enough donation came in, we’d actually name it after that organization or that family.”

Grants, volunteer labour and in-kind donations are also being sought.

The city has been approached and may help with some dirt if it can be tied in with another project, but there are no guarantees.

It’s hoped enough cash can be lined up to start the project this spring.

It will take about a month once the grass is seeded before it’s ready for use.

The shelter currently houses 40 dogs, 80 cats, three rabbits and a gerbil.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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