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Page last updated on June 29, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Welcome to a day and an event to which both two- and four-legged creatures in Bloomington have looked forward for many years - the ribbon cutting on our newly refurbished and refurnished Animal Shelter!  I remember making the announcement that we would be able to accomplish building this wonderful space in my February 2017 State of the City remarks - an announcement that generated strong local approval! I remember the groundbreaking, assisted by intrepid canines, last April. And here we are, in June of 2018, ready officially to open the doors and dedicate this new wonderful, welcoming and functional space.

There are many people to thank and much to celebrate with this opening. And we will certainly thank and celebrate today.  But let’s just take a moment to think about why a community might choose to spend tax dollars on animal care and control, and this beautifully updated facility.  

I believe it has to do with our humanity and our general compassion for the animals with whom we choose to share our homes. We Bloomingtonians carry within us a genuine love for our animal companions, and we act on that love. We ask for dog parks, pet-friendly walking trails, and special adoption events; we even host special days at our public pools for our dogs once a year with great participation. And, as a community, we funded this improved facility we celebrate today!

We humans have lived with domesticated animals for thousands of years and with good reason. How many of us think back about a pet in our early life, that we loved, that loved us. Or think right now about the pets in our life, how they enrich our days, lift our hearts, soften our sadness and quicken our steps. Evidence suggests pet owners live longer! The pets in our homes help us teach our children important lessons about responsibility, compassion, companionship and love. As a community we recognize the importance of these relationships and work hard to promote responsible pet ownership.

This refreshed, expanded building will improve the outcomes for every person and animal that passes through its doors. You’ll hear more about the specifics of this operation from others, but I’m proud to report that we continue progress on connecting animals in our care with positive outcomes. We expect something approaching 4000 animals to pass through these doors annually. That’s nearly 80 a week. In 2017 87% of the animals entering the shelter were returned to their owners, transferred to another rescue group, or adopted into new homes. Our euthanasia rate is continuing downward, and we are among the top tier of similar agencies in the state. Last year our euthanasia rate was 8% of total intake, overwhelmingly due to severe health issues, or unsafe behaviors. So far this year this outstanding crew has cut that low rate in half again, so only 4% of animals entering the shelter have been euthanized, again for these same limited reasons.

And let’s be clear, the additional work space, improved ventilation and housing for the animals is designed to increase the well-being of the animals in our care.  This should decrease our instances of illness contracted from stays in the shelter, allowing staff to spend more time interacting and caring for the animals rather than spending most of their time cleaning and medicating.  

And as mayor of this pet-loving city, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart the employees and volunteers who will work miracles under this new roof. They - you -  will improve the lives of not only the animals who come here - sometimes in states of neglect or poor health - but the people who will integrate them into their families. The staff and volunteers of this facility have done this difficult and worthwhile work on behalf of the animal members of our community for more than 60 years - giving compassionate care, education and matchmaking services of the highest quality, making the lives of human and nonhuman animals so much better, and whose value to the community is impossible to calculate - or overestimate. I acknowledge and appreciate the generosity of spirit that keeps each Bloomington Animal Shelter employee and volunteer coming through these doors and working to protect this community's animals.

And of course a shout out and thank you to our long standing partner the Monroe County Humane Society for their commitment to animal welfare in the community. We are happy to share this renovated space with them as we work together in a community wide partnership to provide animal care services.

Thanks are also due to the mayors, council members and administrators who came before us and put this project in motion. Mayors Kruzan and Fernandez each found funding to improve this facility during their tenures. And the Redevelopment Commission that agreed that this kind of investment in our animal care system is indeed an important part of the quality of life of our community.

Our contractor, Neidigh (nye-dee) Construction, worked diligently to complete this project.  They accommodated our request for the project to be done in phases to make it possible to continue to care for the animals throughout the disruption a construction project inevitably causes.  And as each of you will recall, even on this warm June day, last winter was a particularly difficult one for anyone working construction. Thank you to each of the workers who brought their considerable skills - and Carharts - to this project.

And of course you can’t build something without a plan. Our architect Mary Krupinski with Kirkwood Design worked within the confines of a challenging site and the constraints of the existing structure to plan a new facility that would be within budget, safe, functional, attractive and welcoming. Thank you and job well done.

A special thanks to Jeff Fanyo from Bynum Fanyo. Jeff donated ALL the Civil Site Design including site planning, design and civil engineering work as part of the design team. That generous donation made it possible to include items in the end design that, had Jeff not donated his services, would have to have been left out. We appreciate your kind donation of services, Jeff!

So join with me, as we imagine the hundreds of families who will be coming through these doors, to choose one of the hundreds of animal friends, who will together make new homes, and new memories, and new relationships, as we dedicate this place of love and care, on behalf of our entire community, and thank all those who made this happen.

That’s it from me, let’s hear from some others who helped make this day possible and cut a ribbon!