Volunteers give Brunswick animal shelter a makeover
BRUNSWICK — In lieu of a company Christmas party, a Portland business owner this week donated more than $30,000 worth of renovations to the Coastal Humane Society.
The work Monday and Tuesday by Hardypond Construction took place throughout the animal shelter's 30 Range Road facility.
Shelter leaders said the work will be a "Band-Aid" as they continue a campaign to raise $4 million for a new adoption center at 190 Pleasant St.
Hardypond owner Bob Gaudreau's wife, Dorothy Wentworth, is the shelter's vice president. But Gaudreau said his past contract work for CHS at Pleasant Street convinced him to donate his company's materials and labor this week, and to get several other companies to donate supplies.
"We learned there were less-than-desirable conditions for animals and volunteers," Gaudreau said.
Some of those conditions included leaky roofs, insufficient storage space, inadequate living space for some cats and dogs, and poor insulation.
The condition of a dog isolation area – and the shelter's previously deferred improvements to the section – were the chief basis of public criticisms in 2013 by a group of volunteers who were later dismissed because CHS officials said their behavior was creating an uncomfortable environment for other staff.
Dr. Mandie Wehr, the shelter veterinarian, said the former volunteers' campaign wasn't the impetus for the renovation work.
While poor conditions in the dog isolation area have always been a concern for the shelter, she said, "It was just that we didn't have the resources until now."
One of the major improvements Hardypond made to the area are new, insulated walls that enclose the former outdoor kennels.
Because that side of the kennel was previously unavailable during the winter, dogs had limited space indoors, Wehr said. It also created problems for volunteers trying to clean the cramped space.
"Doing this kind of work will increase their comfort," Wehr said, and reduce stress for dogs.
Wehr said the volunteer construction workers also modified the shelter's cat kennels, so that felines have more space to move around.
When the Pleasant Street expansion is complete, she said, all of the adoptable animals will move there, while the rest of the animals, including dogs in the current isolation area, will be moved to a newer part of the Range Road facility.
Gaudreau said the company cancelled its annual Christmas party to make time for the shelter work, and all of his workers, and some of their family members, agreed to pitch in.
"It sounds like we're all dog and cat owners," Gaudreau said. "It's the right thing to do."