One of the most touching moments in literature was between a pig and a spider. “‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he (Wilber) asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’” E.B. White wrote in Charlotte’s Web.

Opening on Thursday, Feb. 14 – and with a ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, Feb. 20 – is the greatest gift to furry friends up and down the Keys, the extraordinary new animal shelter of the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA). It’s a big sigh of relief after a massive four-year capital campaign worked to move hundreds of animals from the previous dilapidated property to the new, modern 23,000-square-foot building on College Road. The facility boasts more than 80 dog kennels, housed in 5 different areas, with the ability to separate the sick or the compromised. Animal control will have its own separate holding area to deal with difficult situations, and there is an area for euthanasia and bereavement as well.

Their average 120 cats will have 6 rooms, including one just for kittens. There will be an exotic pet area (ask about the new tiny tortoise), bunny area (there are some fluffy ones there now), food prep rooms, a proper spay neuter clinic, medical and food storage areas, grooming, and offices for staff.

“It’s not an ordinary building,” said Jeff Johnson, president of the FKSPCA. “Making sure it was ready and the animals would be safe has been a complicated process. We needed certain things to be done and that happened last week.” Johnson cites two flaws in the building that delayed its opening. First, the kennels were not watertight. There was a tiny gap between each that allowed water runoff to contaminate each kennel and required a specialist to fix. Also the center has four laundry rooms that will run industrial systems and installing the wiring was a long process. While some amenities are still in progress, the building is up and running, and the animals have moved in without complications.

“I am very thankful to the community,” said Tammy Fox, FKSPCA executive director. “They have helped save the animals we serve and have helped built a new chapter in animal welfare.” Fox credits the volunteers and staff for making the animal transitions smooth and stress-free.

In the end, the new center cost almost $9 million. Aside from $1.5 million from the county and the city waiving $150,000 in fees, all of the money was privately raised. “And I’m not stopping raising money,” said Johnson, whose sights are on specialty programs like a summer camp for kids, training courses for support animals, and classes about community cats. If Charlotte could write in her web, it would say, “Some Shelter.”

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