The Escambia County Animal Shelter hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday, Jan. 29 for a shelter reopening after extensive shelter renovations. The renovations are part of a grant valued at $75,000 from GreaterGood.org's Rescue Rebuild, a volunteer program that works to rebuild, repair and renovate animal shelters and rescues in need. The grant was applied for by Friends of the Escambia County Animal Shelter, and the Escambia Shelter project was selected from 150 project submittals.
Volunteers began renovations Saturday, Jan. 20 and worked through Monday, Jan. 29. Over 400 volunteers participated throughout the course of the project. The renovations included complete demolition and reconstruction of the lobby, front counter, tile flooring, cat rooms and waiting area, along with the addition of a "catio" for outdoor cat play and the installation of sun sails over the dog play yards.
Escambia County Animal Services Manager John Robinson said the renovations will focus on increasing adoptability while making the animals’ time at the shelter more comfortable and enjoyable.
"You see the changes on the outside of the building, but the amazing thing is that it’s not just cosmetic changes, they’re making differences in these animals lives inside the building," Robinson said. "The new cat rooms they’ve developed are going to help the cats stay healthier and the big play yards for the Dogs Playing for Life groups are going to help those animals stay healthier and happier, while making them more adoptable."
Friends of Escambia County Animal Shelter Vice President Kim Rainer said the non-profit applied for the Rescue Rebuild grant with an extensive wish list in mind for shelter renovations, should they be chosen for the grant.
"They have done just about every single they we could have asked for and we’re all just very grateful for this opportunity," Rainer said.
The group supports the shelter throughout the year with resources, outreach, education and more.
Rescue Rebuild Director Bryna Donnelly explained the importance of the shelter renovations for both the animals and the community members and families entering the shelter.
"We want to make this a place where the community is proud to come to. Long ago in the age of dog pounds, it was just about being a repository for animals," Donnelly said. "Rescue Rebuild strives to take all of that out of the equation—we want to make this a place where animals are happier, healthier, they have places to run and play, they can get fresh air, and cats and dogs can get out of their cages. Would you be your best self in a cage? Neither would a cat or a dog and it's kind of the same philosophy."
In addition, the renovation process was also filmed for an episode of Shelter Me, an uplifting film series that celebrates shelter pets and the people who help them. The episode will be broadcast nationally on PBS.
"The community support has been just absolutely fabulous and we couldn’t be happier," Donnelly said.
To watch a highlight video of the ribbon cutting and reopening ceremony, click here.