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Animal Protective Foundation opens new dog housing facility

The Glenville animal shelter has opened a state-of-the-art dog housing facility after years of planning and fundraising.

The Animal Protective Foundation facility is opening a newly renovated wing of its shelter. While its capacity has dropped from 18 to 15, APF Board President Otto Zamek says the newly renovated dog “pods” finally bring the facility to present Association of Shelter Veterinarian standards.

“We took our dog housing from the 1990s, something that was just cages and not really helpful for the dogs and just made them all stressed out, to an area that’s really state of the art. It meets all the veterinary standards for shelters in the 2020s. It allows the dogs to be more in a quieter environment so that when people come to see them, they are more like they really are – their real personalities. They’re less stressed, it allows them to be adopted quickly,” said Zamek.

The APF had been using the same cramped wire cages since 1993. Photos of the old housing unit are up on the wall as a testament to the progress made. The new facility is clean, more spacious, and an outdoor meeting area has been upgraded so potential adoptees can make the best first impression.

Joe Lisella is Executive Director.

“There’s a fresh air supply, so they’re getting fresh air without smelling other dogs or hearing other dogs. All of the glass is laminated. All of the—I mean, we really put a lot of thought into how we did this. Each one has its own drain. We used to have a trench drain where this dog would, how shall we say, urinate, and it would flow along 18 other cages before it got to the final drain. So, everything we could do to control disease, we did. Which means we don’t have dogs all breathing the same air,” explained Lisella.

Better conditions for the dogs are always a priority, but Lisella says it also means they get adopted more quickly.

“If we had one dog that had kennel cough before, we had every dog had kennel cough,” continued Lisella. “And, that meant they couldn’t go home, we had to sit here and wait until they were healthy enough to go. The idea is to kind of really focus on that – keeping dogs healthy and calm and getting them into homes as quickly as we can.”

The new facilities don’t eliminate the risk of disease, but they provide, for the first time in the shelter’s history, a dedicated isolation unit, in addition to other safeguards, to help prevent the spread of canine diseases.

Without the ribbon-cutting crowd the facility is, as far as dog shelters go, quiet.

Seymour and Xax have been isolated from the other animals in the facility.

“These two dogs we brought them over from Mohawk Hudson. They arrived with kennel cough. So, rather than having them out with the general population, where if one dog has kennel cough every dog has kennel cough, we now have the ability to control and keep them in here,” said Lisella.

The old shelter was built with previous standards in mind; shelters rarely kept dogs for more than two weeks before euthanizing them. Over the years as shelters have begun to keep rescued and surrendered animals around, their priorities have shifted to longer term care.

APF Veterinary Medical Director Jackie Kucskar says the benefits of the new housing facilities go beyond improved health.

“It almost brought tears to my eyes, the first day the dogs were in here because I walked back here and it was quiet. Every dog was quiet. They were in their own space. The stress levels that we look at, some of the behavior markers and things like that, went way down. So, that is one of the hugest benefits,” said Kucskar.

The upgrades were made possible by half a million dollars in donations and state grants – donors and state officials were at the ribbon cutting – but Lisella also thanks the facility’s regular volunteers.

Valerie Sayers gets together regularly with her college friends for “sewing parties” to create pillows for the shelter’s cats and blankets for the dogs. She says it can be difficult to head home empty-handed.

“Absolutely! It’s hard right now, just looking at Cody over here, and to not just pick them up and hug him. But knowing that they have comfortable blankets and pillows and food, you know, it’s just a blessing,” said Sayers.

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