SHAFTSBURY -- A recent proposed site for a new home having not worked out, Second Chance Animal Center is looking for a parcel of land for a new state-of-the-art facility.
"We are trying to get the word out that we're looking for a new property," said Executive Director Linda Huebner in a recent interview, adding that the center has no other properties in mind, though it does have criteria for what it is seeking. "We serve all of Bennington County and in some capacities beyond, but we're looking for a property within Bennington County, ideally between Bennington and Sunderland, so that we're reasonably accessible to all parts of the county."
An ideal site would be 5-plus acres "on a major road, or easy access off of a major road, like we have here," Huebner said. Adequate space for parking is another important factor.
"We would love to see a donation of land, so then that's one less thing we have to spend money on and we can spend more money on the building itself and obviously the animals -- always our first priority," she said.
At the 55th annual meeting of Second Chance in May, Board President Kimberly Gould's statement in the annual report said the organization continued to look for a "suitable piece of land on which to build our new, beautiful, state-of-the-art animal center that will allow us to serve even more needs with additional services for families and pets in our community.
Said Huebner, "We'd like to expand services, not so much the number of animals we have in the shelter at any given time but for community services, and we just need an updated facility to be able to do that."
The organization is also preparing for a capital fundraising campaign.
Second Chance currently occupies the same building it has since 1961, a former restaurant set next to Route 7A. The organization also utilizes a barn and house a few hundred feet north on Route 7A from the shelter building.
Backing out of the narrow parking lot in front of the shelter can be tricky, people and dogs sometimes have to walk along Route 7A, there is no office for a veterinarian, and owned animals that come in for clinics have to be taken through the facility where the shelter animals reside.
Current plans drawn up by architect Timothy Smith call for a new facility with a main building of about 12,000 square feet and a barn of about 1,800 square feet. Second Chance recently had an option to buy a piece of land on State Park Road, which accesses Lake Shaftsbury not far south down Route 7 from its current location.
It had applied for a conditional use permit in a rural residential, RR-80, zone as a veterinary hospital, a permitted use. The Shaftsbury Development Review Board found that the Second Chance proposal did not qualify under the zoning bylaws as a veterinary hospital.
So the search for land continues. Second Chance has outgrown its current site, but Huebner repeated that this doesn't mean regularly housing more animals.
"Right now we have maximum capacity of about 100 cats and about 14 dogs, so we're not looking to increase that. But we're looking to do some things with the building that we can't do now," she said. "For example, we don't have a veterinarian office. Now we have contract veterinarians working for us, we'd love to have a veterinarian on staff if we could but that person would need an office.
"We have a small veterinary area and...we make do with what we've got but it's less than ideal," she said. "We want to be able to improve on that. We want to be able to improve the way we work with owned animals in the community and we have our spay/neuter clinics and the facility, again, we get by, but it is less than ideal the way we're trying to move owned animals throughout the facility.
"And the most recent set of plans from Timothy Smith have a community clinic right at one end of the building, so people could come in and out of there with their owned animals, they're not having to move through the shelter building," Huebner said.
Huebner would also be able to have an office on site, now it is up the road from the shelter itself.
"It will be really nice to have all of us in the same building, on the same phone system on the same Internet system because right now we are cobbling together everything that we're doing and it is less efficient than it could be," she said.
In 2013 there were 559 cats surrendered to Second Chance, 174 dogs surrendered, and 24 "critters" surrendered. In response there were 385 cats adopted, 157 dogs adopted and 17 "critters" adopted. The center also conducted 65 humane investigations.
Anyone with a possible site or leads on a possible site may contact Second Chance at 802-375-2898. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mark Rondeau at email@example.com. Twitter: @banner_religion