Calgary Humane Society digs into $12.5-million expansion project

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Each year, the organization provides safe shelter for more than 4,500 lost and unwanted animals, until a new home is found for them. With all that it does for Calgary’s animals, the organization has outgrown its current 44,000 square foot facility which opened in 2006.

“This building put Calgary on the map when it came to animal welfare and we were seen as leaders in the sector, with people coming from across North America to tour our building before they commenced planning their own facilities,” Fritz said.

Calgary Humane Society board chair Lisa Kindree, left, and executive director Carrie Fritz hoist shovels at the ground-breaking ceremony. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

“It has served us well. Over 93,000 animals have come through our doors and we have been able to offer them a second chance.”

But there are studies that analyze animal stress, fear and anxieties and new strategies are being developed to mitigate these responses to the shelter environment, as well as to improve prevention of disease transmission and to encourage behaviour modification, enrichment and socialization. The current Calgary facility isn’t meeting the newest criteria in all areas.

Fritz said it was only four years after the facility opened that they realized there were deficiencies in their building design. For example, they found that animals of different species were housed too close to one another; there was limited noise control, due to the open floor plan; there wasn’t enough space outside for training and enrichment; and, there wasn’t enough natural lighting.

The expansion will solve those problems, while adding properly sized enclosures that are modifiable, a better-equipped veterinary clinic with separated exam, treatment, surgery and recovery areas, and a maternity and neonatal ward.

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