County shelter marks major expansion
June 26 , 2006
By JOHN REITMEYER of the Burlington County Times

WESTAMPTON - Burlington County officials held a ceremony yesterday at the county Animal Shelter to mark the completion of a nearly two-year expansion and renovation project designed by Garrison Architects of Mount Laurel

The shelter never closed during construction, but the ceremony was treated as a grand opening because the $2.2 million project more than doubled the size of the facility to 14,500 square feet.

The original space at the more than 30-year-old shelter on Academy Drive in the county complex off Woodlane Road was also renovated. The shelter serves all 40 municipalities in the county.

"I am thrilled to see the completion of this expansion," said Freeholder Dawn Marie Addiego, who serves as the Board of Freeholders' liaison to the county Health Department, which administers the shelter. The shelter now has space for 100 dogs and 240 cats, up from the 50 and 144, respectively, that could be housed before the expansion. The facility also has an in-house clinic for spaying and neutering and a new multipurpose classroom that will be used for educating people who adopt pets from the shelter.

The heating and air-conditioning systems were upgraded, and an animal exercise yard was installed. The yard can also be used during emergencies to house animals evacuated from private homes. "It's just going to do so much for the animals," said Pat Kelly, a member of the Burlington County Animal Alliance, an all-volunteer animal advocacy organization. "We are thrilled."

The expansion was started by the freeholders in October 2004. Earlier that year, animal advocates had pressed the board to make improvements at the shelter to allay their concerns about overcrowding and the too frequent use of animal euthanasia.

Bob Gogats, the county's public health coordinator, praised the staff and public for remaining patient throughout the project. He said keeping the shelter open during construction may have been more difficult but it was better for the animals.
"Their care was constant and it was good," Gogats said.

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