By Emily Cutts
SHAFTSBURY — Dozens of dogs and cats will soon have a more comfortable home as they wait for adoption at the Second Chance Animal Center.
The shelter announced Wednesday that the shelter’s board of trustees president, Kimberly Gould, signed an agreement to purchase the Valhalla Motel on Route 7A in Arlington.
The motel will be torn down to prepare the site for a new “state-of-the-art” building that will house the shelter and a barn that will be used for educational programming. The shelter is moving about two miles north.
“We’re very excited, both the staff and the board. It will offer many, many advantages to people in our community,” said Judy Murphy, Second Chance board member.
The project’s architect, Timothy Smith of Timothy D. Smith & Associates in North Bennington, said plans for the new 12,000-square-foot shelter include approximately 14 kennels for dogs and hotels or condos for about 100 cats in separate areas.
Smith said the dogs will be in a kennel enclosed in a glass area so the potential clients can observe the dogs while causing a minimal amount of disturbance. The dog areas will have outdoor pens adjacent to the kennels so dogs, along with staff members or volunteers, are able to walk directly outside.
The new shelter will also include a “significant number of air changes,” Smith added.
“It’s a sophisticated air system, changing the air frequently,” he said.
The air between the animals and the people will be kept separate which will keep everyone healthier, Smith said.
Murphy said the new location is convenient to the county’s North and South Shire and is easily accessible.
“It’s a perfect location for us, really convenient, good space, it will keep our animals out of traffic,” said Randy Schmidt, the board’s capital campaign chairman.
The new facility will have walking trails that will keep the animals and volunteers safer as they will no longer have to cross or walk along Route 7A.
Construction is expected to begin sometime next year, Schmidt said. After demolition of the existing motel on the property, work still needs to be done to finalize the design of the new shelter. After a final design is settled upon and a cost has been determined, fundraising can begin.
“It will be a multi-pronged fundraising process,” Schmidt said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The shelter has been at its current location in Shaftsbury for more than 40 years.
“The place we have now has just been cobbled together. We’re constantly repairing it,” Murphy said. “It’s never really been perfect for us.”
The shelter was incorporated in 1959 as the Bennington County Humane Society and has been serving homeless animals for more than 56 years. The current shelter on Route 7A was formerly a tavern.
“Anybody who has been there knows how badly we need a new facility,” Schmidt said.