Pinch me… I must be dreaming! No, wait… it really is true. The new Beatrice Animal Shelter is ready for business. Or almost.

You are invited to check out the new facility at our open house on Wednesday, April 26th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But please be warned… the amazement factor may knock your socks off.

The new shelter is located west of Beatrice on Highway 136 just across from the college. As you walk along the front sidewalk to enter the building, imagine that the area is filled with Tribute Bricks. The bricks, which sell for either $100 or $250 honor and memorialize loved ones and pets. Bricks will come from Endicott Clay Products just down the road in Jefferson County and may be ordered by completing a simple form.

It is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the new shelter project and to show your support for the work the Humane Society does with lost and homeless animals in Beatrice and all of Gage County.

Inside the front door is a welcoming lobby/office area, small gift shop, and shelter manager’s office. You will also see the beautiful Donor Wall where our “dream makers,” “founders,” and major donors are listed.

Then, right near the front office for all to see, is the kitten room. Although no animals will be at the shelter on the open house day, you will be able to see the new, efficient, and attractive cages for the young feline friends. Is there anything more entertaining than watching kittens playing and cavorting?

And be sure to check out the wonderful artwork on the walls. Special thanks to Nancy Hagler-Vujovic for sharing her time and talents to enhance the aesthetics throughout the building. The whimsical dog and cat silhouettes are priceless.

One of my favorite spots is the spacious conference room. It will be the site for this June’s Camp Paw Paw classes for young animal lovers and will be a permanent home for Beatrice Humane Society board meetings, staff meetings, volunteer orientation sessions, and educational seminars such as dog obedience training.

Visible from the lobby is “Smallville,” a play area for small dogs who will be able to socialize with each other and flirt with passers-by. Further down the hall is the adult cat room and kennels for canines that are ready to be adopted.

A medical/groom room is equipped with a bathing tub that can be raised and lowered, a digital scale, exam table for veterinarian visits, and medical and lab equipment. A washer, dryer, and dishwasher will also be in the room. Beatrice Community Hospital donated cabinet units from the old hospital building, and shelter volunteers loaded them up and delivered them to the new building.

Isolation rooms for new arrivals, a food storage room that is set up for filling dog and cat bowls, and a spacious garage that law enforcement officers and the animal control officer can use when bringing in new shelter “guests” anchor the north end of the building.

Outside on the east side of the shelter are large dog runs that will enable the critters to burn off excess energy and to enjoy the great outdoors. Special thanks to the Thomas Foundation for awarding a grant that covered the cost of the chain link fencing that is not only functional but good-looking as well.

The new facility is bigger and nicer than the present site, but more importantly, it will be much more efficient. Air flow and exchange will be cleaner and healthier and will help to prevent disease among the animals. Heating and cooling will be more cost-effective, and better storage will make things more organized and less cluttered.

But words don’t do justice to this wonderful new building. Please plan to take some time on Wednesday to walk through it, visit with staff and Board members, and ask any questions you may have. Julie’s Hotdogs will be on site from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. so you can even grab some lunch before or after your walk-through.

If you would like to bring a “shelter-warming” gift, please look at our new shelter wish list for ideas on what we need to maintain operations. The list is available on our website beatricehumanesociety.org.

Yes, the dreams of many have become a reality. Hope to see you on Wednesday as we celebrate the completion of our “Raise the Woof” campaign.

This column was written by Bette Anne Thaut, Board member of the Beatrice Humane Society.

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