Humane Society of Huron Valley moves homeless pets into new home
The brown, Chihuahua-mix shivered and struggled against his leash on the way to the Humane Society of Huron Valley’s new shelter, located just behind the old building at 3100 Cherry Hill Road near Dixboro.
In his new heated, outdoor kennel, Kahlo hesitated as he approached the doggy door that led to his indoor room, tapping it with his paw before running away.
With some friendly coaxes and a few dog treats, however, Kahlo soon settled into his spacious new digs, a far cry from the smelly, cramped facility that housed Washtenaw County’s homeless pets for the past 58 years.
“It’s a big day for us,” Marketing Director Deb Kern said Saturday. “This has been such a long time coming.”Kahlo is one of nearly 200 cats and dogs moving this weekend to the new animal shelter, a project that was more than four years in the making.
The new 30,000 square-foot facility is nearly three times the size of the old one and able to hold almost twice as many animals.
“Our goal was to design a joyous and healthy space for people and animals. One that celebrates the role of companion animals in our lives and that effectively takes care of the homeless, the abused and the abandoned,” Executive Director Tanya Hilgendorf said.
“We really owe it to them to give them a healthy, happy space to recover and find a new home.”
With its bright green, blue and yellow walls, spacious kennels and added visitor and administration rooms, the new shelter is a vast improvement over the previous facility, built in 1951.
Stacked cages of cats filled random rooms and offices in the old shelter, while the constant sound of barking dogs resonated on both the inside and outside of the building.
Kern said the old building’s poor air circulation and temperature control made it hard to keep the animals healthy. The atmosphere, Hilgendorf said, was stressful for both pets and people.
The new $8.6 million facility has an air-regulating system and soundproof walls, which Hilgendorf said should create a more positive environment.
“To make (pets) adoptable you have to keep them healthy and make them happy,” Hilgendorf said. “Human comfort is also very important. The animal shelter has to be a place that people want to visit.”