Moving can often be a stressful time in someone’s life. Packing up all of one’s belongings to move to a strange, new place while being unsure of the area around you can be a lot to take in.
Fortunately, animals at the Voorhees Animal Orphanage had a short move Wednesday, Aug. 14, when Phase I of the construction project for a new building was completed and celebrated with an animal parade to welcome them to their new shelter and adoption center.
Phase I of the construction project of a new 8,900 square-foot facility signaled what the nonprofit hopes to be the half-way point in its endeavor to construct a new facility on top of the land the VAO occupies.
The new kennel space constructed features 42 dog kennels that are 50 percent larger than dog kennels at the old shelter area, complete with seven air ventilation systems to better manage health and upper respiratory issues, new sewage lines, donated and volunteer-assembled Kuranda beds for each kennel and various additional improvements as well.
Since its inception in 1988, the move to a new building has been a longtime coming, according to multiple VAO officials.
“Every journey is 1,000 steps and the first one is the most important,” said Marketing Director Jennifer Bailey. “It’s just a wonderful feeling that this has been 30 years in the making and that these moves are really happening now.”
Cats and dogs at the VAO were welcomed to the new shelter kennels located next door to the existing building at its current location. Phase II of the project will include the teardown of the VAO’s existing building, following by the construction of the second portion of the new shelter, which will then be connected to the building recently constructed.
David Semless, president of the VAO’s board of directors, said that originally the nonprofit had looked to potentially house its adoptable animals off-site during construction of a new shelter, but once that did not appear to be a possible option for various reasons, the two-phase construction project to accommodate the VAO’s needs was agreed upon.
With ground breaking in May, the hope is the VAO is able to move into the entirely completed facility by year’s end. According to Semless, an additional 6,000 square-feet is to be added in phase II.
“That should all be under roof by November, and then hopefully completed entirely by the end of the year,” said Semless. “Right now, we put in six yards to keep the dogs active and to meet with visitors at the VAO. We pride ourselves at getting our dogs out and active, our staff and volunteers are so dedicated to the animals we have here and get them out every day.”
Phase I of the project kicked off in May after the VAO hit the $1 million mark in its fundraising campaign “Building for a Pawsitive Future,” however the shelter is still short of its $1.6 million goal. Donations can be made at the www.vaonj.org website, with sponsors also having additional opportunities, such as acquiring the naming rights to certain areas of the new shelter.