JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville Animal Shelter Director Sarah Green said the recent major renovations the shelter has undergone will go a long way toward improving the health and happiness of the cats and dogs who stay there while waiting for their forever homes.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday attended by Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and his dog, Puddin, shelter staff unveiled the roughly $1.3 million in improvements done over the past year to what was formerly known as the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter.
The work includes new flooring throughout the facility, added space for new dog kennels, a grooming tub, added play space in the backyard, a larger habitat area for older cats to roam and an updated reception area.
“We had a lot of problems,” Green said. “The shelter before wasn’t really built for animal care. There was a residential HVAC system which didn’t really keep up and there was tile with grout throughout a lot of the building, and that was not conducive to animals being on it.”
Green said the new HVAC system can help keep animals from getting sick and so can some of the other improvements like moving the cats a little more out of earshot of the dogs to help prevent stress.
“Once they’re super stressed out their immunity lowers and they are more apt to break with an infectious disease,” she said. The new multi-tiered cat kennels are expected within a few weeks and will provide a more comfortable area, Green said.
“Right now in stainless steel cages, they’re not big enough for them to have a good quality of life,” the director said. “They’re close to their litter box, everything is in a 2-by-4 kennel. That’s just not conducive to them being able to act like a cat.”
There are other changes such as relocating equipment, efficient improvements that overall will save hours a day — time Green said can be used for staff to interact more with the animals.
“I feel really great about it,” Green said of the improvements. “It’s been a long time coming and the morale for the staff is a lot higher. Their job is being made easier by being more efficient, and everybody here loves animals and they want to spend more time with animals.
“So that’s kind of going to be our focus going forward, while they’re here,” Green said, “fostering more interaction between the staff and the animals, and getting them ready for adoption.”
The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission had approved up to $2 million for renovations to the aging facility where the shelter, which has been run through an agreement between multiple Clark County municipalities, has been for roughly 20 years. It was the last commercial project of the late Wayne Estopinol, a well-known architect who died in a plane crash with two others in 2018.
“Everything else in Jeffersonville is moving forward and looking good. I wanted the shelter to have the same claim,” Mayor Moore said. “Sometimes animal shelters get taken for granted and I think we’ve created something everybody can be proud of.”
For Moore, attending the Tuesday ceremony with Puddin was even more special because he took her home from there as a rescue seven years ago. He praised Green for her work in improving the environment for cats and dogs of Clark County who need shelter.
“The animals are not a burden to us, they bring us joy,” Moore said. “These animals are getting an opportunity at life they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Green said the renovations will also help the shelter prepare for a potential influx of surrendered animals by owners out of a house or job due to the pandemic. They’ve already started seeing a little of it over the last few weeks.
“I think the animal welfare field as a whole is kind of preparing for that,” she said. The shelter will try to help them keep their pets in the home when possible. So if someone is surrendering an animal because they can’t afford pet food, the shelter could help out with that. If it’s something more serious like a medical condition or surgery, the shelter can try to help find community partners who could help with that.
“We have had people that just need food and we’re happy to give them that,” she said. “Anything to help keep the animal in the home is ideal.”