Humane Society to build new facility

Published 8:04 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has outgrown its 1950s-era facility located in Benton Township and will build a new shelter on its recently purchased five-acre property in Royalton Township on M-139, approximately one half mile north of John Beers Road.

Don Blackmond, board president and treasurer for the HSSM, said the new shelter would allow the oranization to help more animals.

The current shelter, located at 641 S. Crystal Ave., in Benton Township, is approximately 6,000 square feet.

The new shelter is designed to be more than 17,000 square feet and contain separate wings for cats and dogs, training rooms, greeting rooms and a multipurpose conference room.

“We run at capacity,” Blackmond said. “As a no-kill shelter we do not euthanize for space. When we are full, we cannot rescue additional animals. We can take about 50-60 dogs and 100 cats. The new shelter will allow us to take between 80 and 100 dogs and 100 cats. Increased capacity means more animals saved.”

Blackmond added that the conference room could be used for special events and public awareness programs.

“As such, we will be able to improve efforts to address topics such as humane care, anti-cruelty, benefits of spay and neuter, animal behavior and training,” he said.

The board of directors selected Pearson Construction Company of Benton Harbor as their design builder for the project. Pearson, with the assistance of TERA Architects, their in-house architectural firm, will begin design immediately and break ground on the new shelter as soon as fundraising has reached its preliminary goal of $2 million dollars.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of the animals,” said Executive Director Jill Svoboda. “Our facility is simply outdated and we just can’t provide the environment and level of care for our animals that we feel is necessary at our current shelter, so we opted to build a new one.”

The Humane Society receives no financial support from taxes, dog license revenue, government agencies, or national humane organizations. The organization relies solely on fundraising efforts, donations, memorials, fees, grants, and planned giving gifts to keep their facility operational.

“We are kicking off our formal Building Fund Capital Campaign with the new year on January 1,” said Blackmond. “We are encouraged by the interest of our current supporters and contributors, but we know we have a long way to go to reach our goal.”