BURLINGTON, N.C. -- When it came time to upgrade the Burlington Animal Services Center, center director Jessica Arias knew big changes were needed.
"Animal Services have evolved over the years from being the old pound to an actual resource center for pets in the community," Arias said.
Earlier in the year, construction crews began a $5 million addition and renovation project.
The addition is now complete and attached to the old shelter.
The new wing has improved ventilation and the kennels are easier to clean. Arias added that the kennels are larger, giving dogs and cats plenty of room to move.
"Each of these are also equipped with a portal and a resting shelf so the cats can choose which side of the kennel to be on and be separate from their litter box and their sleeping area," Arias said.
The bigger kennels are also following the guidelines set by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.
In the old shelter, the stray cats and dogs or surrendered pets were processed in two rooms.
Now animals coming into the Burlington Animal Services Center are processed in one large room.
There's plenty of space for volunteers and vets to examine and vaccinate a pet. Around the corner, there's a larger medical and surgical center.
Arias explained space is needed because veterinarians can do as many as 40 operations in a day.
"It's been an immediate upgrade for the animals, for the people, visitors and staff," Arias said. "Most importantly, the animal enclosures are so much better."
The bigger building is also better for staff and folks looking to adopt an animal.
"It's so much better. It's more inviting, bright and welcoming," Arias said. "So when people come, it's a happy space to be in."
There's also room for people to play and get better acquainted with their animal before they take home their four-legged friend.
For now the temporary entry is located in the back of the addition.
Builders will quickly begin renovating the old facility, creating a large lobby and more play space for animals.
The temporary entry at the back of the building will become a staff break room. Arias said the renovations will help spread the message of the center's 90% success rate.
"That's why we are here: to be a safety net for pets in the community and to be a resource for all people in the community that have pet-related needs," Arias said.
The renovation should be completed by Summer 2020.
When completed, the center will be about 20,000 square feet.
The Burlington Animal Services Center is open. It's located at 221 Stone Quarry Road in Burlington.