It cannot simply be called a shelter any more. The new Florida Keys Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) building on College Road represents the next generation of animal care in the Florida Keys. The FKSPCA is not only changing buildings but changing the entire attitude and concept toward animal welfare and it is light years ahead of the services provided now.
Anyone who has been to the current shelter doesn’t deny the need for a new one. The mismatched buildings and dark kennels are often overcrowded and prone to flooding during storms. The spay/neuter area is an old trailer. Dogs have to be walked on busy College Road. Nothing about it is ideal or even pretty, thus making adoptions less appealing. The entire expanse of the current facility is 20,000 square feet and it doesn’t work.
The new building isn’t much more than that, at 23,000 square feet, but will provide so much more. There will be 80 dog kennels, up from 40, housed in 5 different areas with the ability to separate the sick or the compromised. There are large windows into the kennel areas allowing the public better viewing. Animal control will have its own separate holding area to deal with difficult situations and there will be a bereavement/euthanasia area as well. For the average 120 cats, it will go from two rooms to six, with a room just for kittens – and maybe even a kitten cam coming! There will be an exotic pet area, bunny area, food prep rooms, a proper spay/neuter clinic, medical and food storage areas, grooming, and even proper offices for staff. At present, the shelter goes through a washing machine every month without a commercial hook-up.
“We just felt like the animals needed better,” said Kim Wilkerson, a member of the FKSPCA’s board of directors.
All of this space will allow the society to implement more services such as behavioral therapy programs and increase veterinary services (even surgery) at lower costs. If the center’s 13 employees and more than 100 volunteers can provide better care and low cost amenities both before and after, then animal rehabilitation and adoption is more likely. Also, the entire structure will be more user-friendly with a reception area, public conference area and waiting/adoption areas.
“We hope people will surrender their animal faster, knowing how much care we can offer,” said Jeff Johnson, capital campaign chair and FKSPCA president-elect. Johnson began the campaign for a new shelter 10 years ago and has tirelessly raised the $8 million in costs. “A lot of it came from out of state by people who just love animals.” Johnson is still campaigning for the last $300,000 for furniture and interior finishings, with a little more they will almost be there. The opening is still set for May. For more information or to make a donation go to www.fkspca.org.
Donations up to$50,000 for the new shelter made before March 31 will be matched by Naomi Van Steelandt, owner of Center Court Historic Inn & Cottage. Call 305-294-4857 and mark donation with “Match.”