BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Burlington Animal Services is proud of their 90-percent save rate. Pet adoption specials help to bring people through the door and dogs and cats out the door. Despite their success, Animal Services Director Jessica Arias believes their building is holding them back.
"It was the dog pound back in those days," Arias said. "But we have come so far in the industry and in the community in how we think about homeless pets and pet adoption."
That's why Arias wants to get rid of the tiny 57-year-old brick structure. The original Alamance County shelter is currently being used as the pet intake center. In the building, veterinarians look over cats and dogs that are surrendered before they are put up for adoption. If the adoption center is full, the animals remain in the original shelter. At times, Arias explains, the conditions are not ideal.
"If we had smell-o-vision, you would be able to tell the need for an improved ventilation system," she said.
Along with the smell, the temperature is hard to control and there's chipping paint. All of which is a concern to staff and inspectors.
"We are passing inspections," Arias explained. "But they are always noting chipping paint and the air system. Those are our biggest issues we have been working with them on."
A few steps away, the adoption center is in a 15-year-old building. But that facility no longer measures up to what the public expects.
"We want to be the source shelter for folks to get their pets here in the region," Arias said. "Having a bright, welcoming, warm place to come to is central in making that happen."
Outside of the adoption center, construction crews are busy building a better shelter. Under one roof, staffers will have more room for medical treatment, better ventilation that will reduce dog and cat odor and better living conditions for the cats and dogs.
"Most of the enclosures are facing windows, so there will be a lot of natural light in the building," Arias said. "That's important to keep animals healthy and to make it light, inviting space for people to visit."
The $5 million expansion will definitely help the pets. The larger building will also help people by providing more meeting space for staff and volunteers.
"It's a community destination for people that love pets. It's where you want to be if you want to adopt a pet, help with a pet," Arias said. "We have resources that we can connect people to in the community."
Adding to the theme of a community destination, a future trail will connect the expanded animal services center to a nearby park. The larger center should be ready next fall.