Animal shelter prepares for new volunteers and new building


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Potential pets at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center have a lot to get ready for with the completion of the new shelter just over the horizon.

This summer's first batch of center volunteers will also have to get ready for life at the new facility.

Lisa Bragg, a program director at the adoption center, said the center has more than 20 volunteers signed up, a number she said is slightly higher than usual.

In 2014, more than 300 volunteers worked at the shelter, she said.

After orientation, the new volunteers must be trained to work with specific animals such as dogs, cats, or different small animals, and on Tuesday, these volunteers caught their first glimpse of life at the new facility as the first orientation class of the summer.

"We have some volunteers who have been here for more than 10 years," said Chad Mason, an employee at the center.

Calista Hostodarsky, one of the volunteers, said she has volunteered at the shelter for roughly 11 years.

"One of the things I really like is I can come when it works for me," she said.

She won't head to the same location for long, though, because the new animal center is nearing completion.

Liz Ford, the head of the animal center, said construction is scheduled to be completed by July 31, and the staff and animals should be fully moved in by the end of August.

Ford said the new center will have many basic mechanical needs that the current location is sorely lacking, including a better drainage system, better lighting system, and better airflow.

"The building is actually designed to be an animal shelter," she said.

The current building was not meant to be an animal shelter; it is a building the city rented and threw cages inside after the 2008 flood destroyed the former shelter, she said.

Ford said that with all of its new features, the new center should be much more efficient and pleasant for the visitors, staff, and, most importantly, the animals.

The grand opening will take place sometime in September; there currently is no specific date set yet, Ford said.

Since the flood, Ford said, she's been grateful for the response from the community.

"I think one of the most important things to remember is all of the support we've gotten from the community," she said. "We've seen great help from the community with volunteering [and] support for the shelter." In the end, although being a shelter volunteer does involve a love for animals, Bragg said, being a volunteer isn't just about coming to pet the animals.

"It can be a big emotional toll," she went on to say. "No matter how many animals get adopted, there is always one to take its place."

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