A new safe place for animals opens in Shelton

It was eight years in the planning, but the city’s new animal shelter promises decades of care and comfort for the animals that find temporary homes there. “It’s a long road come to an end,” said Roberta Reynolds, a member of Shelton’s Animal Shelter Committee.

Reynolds was one of many, including other committee members, city officials and shelter supporters, who gathered on Sept. 16 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the shelter at 11 Brewster Lane, just off Riverdale Avenue.

The $1.4-million facility will soon replace the outdated 40-year-old cement block shelter just down the road.

“It’s literally falling down,” said Gail Craig, the committee’s recording secretary and a board member of the Friends of the Shelton Animal Shelter. She and her husband, Gerry Craig, committee chairman, are also involved in animal rescue efforts.

The new facility has 26 roomy, state-of-the-art dog cages and four quarantine cages, a new cat “condo” room, a cat playroom, an adoption area, and a meeting room and offices for staff.

Those present at the ceremony seemed to be especially pleased with the “adoption room,” where families may interact with a prospective dog or cat in an area separate from the kennels. They may also bring their pets to the room to check for compatibility.

“It’s so warm and homey looking,” Gail Craig said. “One of the main goals is to promote adoptions and get animals into the loving homes they deserve.”

Will have an adoption coordinator

The official name of the facility is the Shelton Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, and there will be an adoption coordinator working at the facility.

“We’re just so proud that we’ve accomplished all our goals and that the animals will have a safe place,” Gail Craig said.

It will take at least a week or two to bring the animals over to the new shelter, and some staff members have to be hired and trained.

Working at the shelter will be the animal control officer, adoption coordinator, a part-time animal control officer, a clerk, and volunteers.

Many to recognize for project

Before handing Mayor Mark Lauretti the keys to the shelter, Gerry Craig recognized committee members Steve Martino, who is vice chairman, A.J. Grasso, Linda Hooper, Irene McCoy, Roberta Reynolds, Tony Minopoli and his wife, Gail.

“The committee has devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to the task given us, and we are quite proud of the result,” Gerry Craig said.

The group considered three basic functions the building should serve — providing a safe and secure environment for lost and stray animals, promoting and handling pet adoption, and offering the opportunity for humane education.

The building was approved by the State Department of Agriculture “with rave reviews,” Gerry Craig said.

He went on to thank Sheryl Taylor, the city’s animal control officer, “for her knowledge and input”; the Board of Aldermen — led by John Anglace — for its support; and city Public Works Director Paul DiMauro. He also thanked Lauretti for his “direction and continued support.”

“I just can’t say enough about Bismark Construction Company [of Milford],” Gerry Craig said. “They displayed tremendous professionalism, expertise, perseverance, and availability. Greg Raucci, president, Greg Jr., and their whole crew were a pleasure to work with.”

‘A long-awaited event’

Ground was broken for the shelter in August 2013, and funding for the project had been approved overwhelmingly at referendum in November 2012, Gail Craig said.

“We came in at budget,” she said.

The city supplied the site work, she said, including grading the city-owned hillside and utility work.

Before cutting the ribbon, Lauretti said, “This is a long-awaited event.”

“I need to applaud the building committee” for their patience, he said. “This facility is above and beyond what was in the past.

“It’s the end of a very long and tedious process,” he told the Herald after the ceremony. “It’s all about the people on the building committee who hung in there and made it happen.”

“It was worth every minute,” said Linda Horval, an FSAS board of directors member. “We’re all thrilled.”

Donations to the shelter may be sent to the Friends of the Shelton Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 2036, Shelton, CT 06484.