Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Personally, that’s a make-or-break question when meeting someone new. I’ll admit, I’m not a cat person. But that doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be treated like royalty, and with the brand new, state-of-the-art, $9 million SPCA facility, that isn’t a problem.
The local SPCA is 138 years old and before this renovation, hadn’t been touched since the 1950s. It had problems that prevented adoptions from happening, like the lack of indoor space for meet and greets. If the weather wasn’t ideal, the animals couldn’t go outside to meet with potential families which led to pauses in adoptions.
Thanks to a new and grand renovation, those (dog) days are over! With the 27,000 square foot, two-story new facility there is no room for the problems of the past.
With 77 indoor dog kennels, 33 outdoor day pens, four fenced in yards, six meet and greet rooms, a classroom, a brand new clinic, a music therapy room and more, the SPCA can now hold 250 rescue animals. Not only does it look and function better, but there’s been an increase in adoptions since reopening in September.
“The happier the animals are, the quicker they get adopted because they show their best selves when they’re not stressed and they’re happy,” Director of Development Lisa Bonanno-Spence said when I spoke to her.
And how could they not be happy? I mean, look at the place! The living options are endless. Are you a cat who likes to live alone? Easy. There are individual four-story cat condos for that.
Are you a cat who likes company? Perfect. Hang out in the Old English Library cattery, courtesy of a Tony-nominated Broadway set designer, and curl up next to the fire (literally, the bed looks like fire and sits in the faux fireplace.) Are you a dog who likes being front and center? I hear you. The Dog of the Day room that’s located at the entrance and resembles a family room with a TV dog house is the perfect fit.
“The more something reminds someone of their own home, the more they can envision that animal in their home,” Bonanno-Spence said in regards to the design, which also helps ease the shelter-to-home transition.
The idea for this project started over a decade ago and has always been the end goal. In 2017, floor plans and tours started happening to solidify a design and a year later the campaign launched. Thanks to previous adopters and supporters, eventually the funds were raised and the old buildings could be bulldozed down.
During the renovation the animals packed their suitcases and traveled down the road to a veterinarian/kennel in Cortlandt Manor. While the volunteers felt fortunate to find a space, it was half the size of their old one, which created concerns of being unable to help as many animals. Luckily, with the pandemic came a lot of families adopting and fostering which ultimately solved the spatial problem which Bonanno-Spence considered a silver lining.
After a year, it was finally time for the big reveal. Because I’m a home renovation show fanatic, I pictured this to be like “Extreme Makeover Edition” when Ty Pennington and the family would yell “MOVE. THAT. BUS!” only this time, it would be lots of barks, meows and tail wagging.
Even though the place looks completely different, I wonder if any of the handful of veterans who returned picked up their scent and thought to themselves…hm, I think I’ve done my business here before…Regardless, everyone felt that in comparison to the old shelter, “it was like the Four Seasons!”
A change in environment normally makes animals nervous, but these animals adjusted within the first 24 hours which shows it got their stamp of approval.
Bonanno-Spence said that all of the workers have always wanted a state-of-the-art center for their animals and for Westchester County and after years of planning it finally happened.
“When you come into this new building, you don’t even really feel like you are in an animal shelter, which is a good thing,” Bonanno-Spence said. “We’re just really hoping now that we have this that we’ll get in more people who want to help because the more people we have coming in to help, the more animals we can help.”
Go visit the new space at 590 North State Road in Briarcliff Manor from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. or donate to help fund the center by visiting spcawestchester.org/donate. SPCA WESTCHESTER PHOTOS COURTESY OF SPCA, via Snootydog.com and Tischman Pets Photography.