Second Chance looks ahead to new home

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ARLINGTON — The new home for Second Chance Animal Center is coming together.

Contractors estimate the project will be complete by mid-summer, with the center moving its cats, dogs and small critters in September, according to Cathi Comar, executive director.

Comar, during a tour of the site, said the new space will allow the organization to better meet the needs of animals and open doors to expand its programs, like the spay and neuter program and pet food pantry. "We're improving their living environments and the environments where we care for them," she said. "And how we get them through the adoption process is much more efficient and better for the animals and adopters." The nonprofit organization will celebrate the ongoing construction of its new home and other accomplishments at its 59th annual meeting this Friday, at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester.

Steve Caporizzo, chief meteorologist and host of "Pet Connection" for WTEN (News10 ABC) in Albany, N.Y., will be the guest speaker. Caporizzo, a popular Capital Region personality, has been an "amazing partner," Comar said. Ground was broken in November on the new, state-of-the-art facility at 1759 Route 7A. The center had purchased the site of the former Valhalla Motel in 2015.

The non-profit animal shelter was incorporated as the Bennington County Humane Society in 1959. It offers shelter, veterinary care and adoption services, in addition to humane education to local schools and community groups. Since 1961, it's home has been at 6779 Route 7A in Shaftsbury, a former tavern.

The new facility is some 10,000 square feet, and, while it doesn't expand shelter capacity (it will still hold at 16 dogs and about 100 cats), will give staff more room to work with animals, according to Comar and Shona Ross, director of shelter operations.

A series of seven 12-foot dog runs will have access to the outdoors. Three "community cat rooms" will each hold five cats with similar dietary needs. They'll be free to roam around and even have fenced-in "porches" if they want to explore outdoors.

The additional space for medical needs "is huge," Ross said. That includes an expanded surgical suite and recovery area. More space for "the medical side of things is the pinnacle of what we wanted. That will really move us forward."

A three-room surgical suite will replace a very small space.

"All our diagnostics will be in one place, as opposed to being spread out," Ross said.

Different areas will have their own sinks and washer/dryer units to prevent cross-contamination. High-efficiency windows provide abundant natural light.

"We plan to be in this building for another 60 years minimum," Comar said. "We want to make sure that while we're fundraising, we're outfitting it with what we need."

One of the largest single improvements will be the air exchange systems, Comar said. Ten times an hour, fresh air from the outside is brought in to replace stale, dirty air. GSK Climate Control, Inc. of East Dorset handled that part of the project.

"Our staff is phenomenal with cleaning. When they're done, you wouldn't even know it's a shelter," Comar said. But the The HVAC system "will take out contaminants and odors on a regular basis."

And staff aren't being left out: A much-needed staff shower will help them clean up messes they encounter while working. General contractor is Naylor & Breen Builders Inc. Comar said the firm estimates to be completed sometime in July. Shelter staff are in talks about how best to coordinate the move. Moving animals and staff, Comar said, "will be the easy part. It's the preparations that come before that will be more work." Friday's meeting is at the Taconic Hotel, located at 3835 Main St. in Manchester. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m and the annual meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.

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