If anyone ever needed proof that state legislators are animal lovers, they needn’t look any further than this year’s Bond Bill.
The $1.4 billion spending package — the largest in history — includes a record amount of money for the state’s largest animal shelters.
Faithful Friends Animal Society, Brandywine Valley SPCA and Delaware SPCA each received $1 million, while First State Animal Center and SPCA received $800,000.
That means about 4.2% of the $90 million in the Bond Bill’s Community Reinvestment Fund will go to cats and dogs.
That kind of investment in Delaware’s furriest residents deserves a round of a-paws.
The Community Reinvestment Fund is a capital grant program that allocates funds to be used for community redevelopment, revitalization and other projects that improve the economic, cultural, historical, and recreational health of Delaware communities.
“It’s a tremendous gift from the state legislature,” said Jane Pierantozzi, executive director of Faithful Friends Animal Society. “We’ll be using the funds for our Building Compassion Capital Campaign, which will provide a new purpose-built animal adoption and community resource center on Airport Road.”
With the investment from the state, Faithful Friends has satisfied 90% of its fundraising goal, Pierantozzi said, and the state-of-the-art Sharon Struthers Animal Adoption and Community Resource Center is expected to open by the end of this year.
The new facility will be located at 165 Airport Road in New Castle.
In contrast to the current facility on Germay Drive in Wilmington, Pierantozzi said the new site will maximize sunlight and give animals more access to nature, something she expects will drastically improve the group’s lifesaving capacity.
The group will continue to operate its low-cost veterinary clinic on Germay Drive.
Those interested in helping Faithful Friends meet its fundraising goal can contribute online at BuildingCompassion.us. There are naming opportunities available for generous donors.
To learn more about the Sharon Struthers Animal Adoption and Community Resource Center, click here.
Tanner Polce, chief advancement officer at Brandywine Valley SPCA, said with the state’s $1 million contribution, the group has met its fundraising goal for its brand new Copeland Center for Animal Welfare.
The 20,000-square-foot facility will house the greater-Delaware region’s first animal intensive care unit, something Polce said will increase access to critical care for pet owners and shelter animals who have high acuity medical needs.
“We often hear from people in the community whose animal might be injured by a car accident, for example, and they just can’t afford the costs in a private veterinary setting,” Polce said. “With our new facility, we can ensure that the animal remains with that family and the tough decision euthanasia can, perhaps, be off the table.”
The new facility doubles BVSPCA’s clinical capacity in New Castle County. Currently, the group can see some 12,000 animals annually, but with the new center, “we really expect that number to be magnified,” Polce said.
“The major downside of our current space in New Castle is the lack of outdoor enrichment space for our canines,” he said. “This new facility has ample space, including outside dog play yards and dog runs that will allow enrichment for our shelter animals. Overall, it’s just a much better fit for the animals we serve.”
Construction began in Dec. 2021 with a projected cost of around $4.6 million.
Thanks to industry-wide increases in construction costs, the project ended up costing close to $7.5 million — something Polce said would be untenable without the support of the facility’s namesake, Tatiana Copeland, and the Bond Bill allocation.
While BVSPCA received $500,000 less than it requested, Polce said the group is “very, very pleased” with the allocation.
“It was a tough year for nonprofits because many nonprofits were experiencing the same things that we were experiencing, whether its major capital projects or ongoing expenses that they came to the state to ask for support,” he said. “So I’m sure it was a tough decision for the Bond Bill committee members, but we’re really grateful for what we received.”
Construction is complete at the Copeland Center for Animal Welfare, but the organization is still working with New Castle County and DelDOT. Polce said the new facility is expected to open in Sept. 2022.
Anne Cavanaugh, executive director of the Delaware SPCA, said her group’s shelter was built in the 1970s. While some parts of the facility have been renovated, there’s a lot more work to do.
“It was primarily designed to house dogs, but nowadays, Delaware has more of a cat problem,” Cavanaugh said. “So we’re going to use the grant to make more space for cats and also to make some more isolation areas for sick animals.”
The investment from the Bond Bill kicks off a capital campaign that the organization soon plans to launch publicly.
“We’re really just getting started,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re finishing up floor plans and getting some construction drawings, so we really don’t have a firm price on all the things we want to do, but once we get good pricing for renovations, we’re probably going to raise additional funds to at least match this gift from the state.”
If everything goes according to plan, the Delaware SPCA hopes to complete its renovations by the end of 2024.
Attempts to reach First State Animal Center and SPCA were unsuccessful. That group received $800,000 in the Bond Bill.
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