YORK COUNTY — For Heritage Humane Society (HHS), they are “Building a stronger community, one pet at a time.”
In the coming months, local residents will notice big changes coming to the shelter: they are expanding.
The $1.8M project will include the addition of 2550 square feet to the front of the adoption facility. It will also add more than 820 square feet for a multipurpose room, 16 new parking spaces and two outdoor dog play yards.
The expansion will also include a renovation to the lobby, four new staff member offices, an employee and volunteer breakroom, and two restrooms. A new multipurpose space in the lobby will include a dog activity and viewing room and two pet feature rooms for animals that need special attention.
A Space for Learning and Love
With 24 staff members, over 700 volunteers and thousands of animals that the facility cares for in a typical year, the need for more space was crucial, said Kimberly Laska, executive director of HHS.
“There’s been so many requests that we can’t fill because we don’t have anywhere to fill it,” Laska said. “For me, the classroom is going to make the most life-saving difference for our community.”
The new classroom will be a space for the facility to hold educational classes or even birthday parties.
However, the class offerings won’t only be for humans, but also for animals.
“We have seen a huge interest in our behavior classes and dog training classes,” Laska said. “So by adding the classroom, not only will we be able to offer birthday parties for the community members, we’ll be able to have our dog training classes inside a beautiful classroom with access to a fresh-air outdoor play yard. So that’s going to make a big difference in the quality of services we provide.”
HHS noted an increase in pet adoptions since the start of the pandemic. As a result, shelter staff and volunteers have focused on behavior services for the animals. The plans include converting the current indoor play yard into a dog activity room to serve multiple functions.
“Our current room is not holding up very well. The materials that were used in that room were not necessarily made for long-term, like we use it,” she said. “It’s also our overflow room as animal control brings in farm animals.”
Because of this, HHS is adding a dog viewing room for community members to have the appropriate space to interact with dogs and potentially find new homes for them. One of the biggest differences in the quality of lives for the dogs at HHS will be the two new outdoor play areas, Laska said.
“It’s going to be a place for the volunteers to spend working on certain skills with the dogs,” Laska said. “That makes the dog a whole lot more adoptable and it makes them feel more at home, so that experience is for their emotional health.”
The project was first envisioned in 2014 but has changed shapes many times over the years, Laska said.
“We finally feel that we’ve got the right combination for growth, but still conservative so that even if animal numbers continue to decline and adoption numbers are higher, everything we’re building is going to carry us into the future,” she said.
To fund the project, HHS has secured commitments from board members, community member donations, and fundraising “naming” opportunities. As a result, HHS has received $1.5M of needed amount.
Improvements to parking and Brick Garden
One of the biggest complaints that the shelter receives is regarding parking at the facility. The expansion will hopefully remedy this problem.
“It’s a thing we’ve needed desperately,” Laska said. “Even now as we’re open by appointment only, we still have issues with having enough spaces.”
With 16 new additional parking spaces, HHS will soon have a total of 39 spaces.
Henderson, Inc. was brought on as the contractor for the project earlier in the year, with Williams Landscape & Design to work on a new memorial patio. The facility’s beloved Brick Garden is under construction and will be relocated to a new area in the coming months.
One challenge for HHS is that they will remain open throughout the entire renovation.
“Our doors will stay open the entire time, it just might be slightly different,” Laska said.
Construction for the expansion begins on Tuesday, April 6, with a celebration currently set for April 15. This will take place at the facility, located on 430 Waller Mill Road. Laska said that HHS plans to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony this October.
“We are going to have as many animals as possible go out to foster homes during the expansion,” Laska said. “We might do a mini ‘Clear the Shelters’ to try to reduce the number of animals in their care during construction because it could be very stressful for the animals.”
Despite the stress that renovation may present, the long term future for HHS and the animals they care for is very bright.
“With this expansion, we’re planning on continuing those services into the future knowing that our hope is, of course, not to have a shelter full of animals, but to be able to provide community resources for pets in need and for the people that love them,” Laska said.
To learn more about Heritage Humane Society or to find your new best friend, click here.
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