Crisis mode versus comfortable: The new Prince Albert SPCA

Tyler Clarke
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If the local animal shelter were still stationed in their old Exhibition Drive building, staff would be in crisis mode.


At their current load of 33 dogs and 62 cats, the Prince Albert SPCA would be over-capacity in their old building (29 dogs and 50 cats), and would be forced to turn away additional pets.

On top of that, with their old facility’s complete lack of air exchange system -- “Nothing; not a thing,” manager Debbie Lehner notes -- animals and staff would be at increased health risk due to overcrowding.

Thankfully, the organization moved into their new building at North Industrial Drive five weeks ago, and their current load of pets is comfortably below their new capacity of 48 dogs and 90 cats.

Brutus, an 80-pound friendly giant of a shepherd/collie mix, never had to experience the unhealthy, over-stretched 3,500-square-foot Exhibition Drive building.

Picked up by city bylaw officers at the 600 block of 23rd Street West, Brutus walked through the brand new 12,000-square-foot SPCA building’s separate guest intake doors at about 8:50 a.m. on Wednesday.

From there, he was taken an intake exam room, where staff member Meagan Boucher scanned him for a microchip and inspected him for medical problems.

Boucher took his picture and information, which was immediately posted onto Facebook.

Found healthy, she took him to a holding kennel, where he will be held for at least 72 hours. If he were found unhealthy or with fleas, he would have been put into an isolation unit.

If he’s unclaimed after 72 hours, he’ll legally be the property of the SPCA and will be taken to a veterinarian to be micro chipped and neutered.

When he returns to the SPCA, he’ll be put into dog adoption kennels, and if he sticks around for long enough or has trouble in the kennels he’ll enter one of six dog habitat rooms.

When he’s not inside, he’ll be playing outside with whichever dogs he gets along with in one of eight outdoor pens.

Brutus is lucky he wasn’t a guest of the former facility.

In the old facility, he would have faced a potential health hazard on entering the Exhibition Drive building.

The new building has an air exchange system that rotates at a rate of 12 turns per minute (the standard for a building of that size is six), with a separate system servicing the building’s isolation unit.

There’s an ability to spend more time with them in a natural environment, which benefits both the staff and animals Leanne Roberts

The isolation unit also has its own washing machine, sink, dishes and laundry.          

In the old building, the isolation unit amounted to a blanket draped over a kennel.

Brutus is currently spending his time in a six-foot by eight-foot kennel -- a space staff has doubled by opening it into a neighbouring kennel.

In the old facility, he would have paced a single 3.5-foot by five-foot kennel.

Maria, a black lab mix of about a year-and-a-half experienced both the old and new facilities, director of operations Leanne Roberts said.

Barking constantly in the old facility, she’s now snug as a bug in one of the new facility’s dog habitat rooms -- a space she’s able to call her own without having to look at the other dogs who seem to bother her.

Cats follow a similar process through the facility, with the new building offering a much healthier environment, Roberts said.

Under the new building’s air exchange system, the organization will no longer have to euthanize cats every winter due to respiratory problems.

There’s much more to the new facility than one can fit in a story, but Roberts said that everyone, staff and animals alike, are reaping the new building’s benefits.

“The staff is thrilled to be here,” she summarized. “They love this work environment, and I think that reflects, too, on the overall wellbeing of the animals.

“There’s an ability to spend more time with them in a natural environment, which benefits both the staff and animals.”

The Prince Albert SPCA is celebrating the grand opening of its new North Industrial Drive building on Saturday.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., members of the public will be invited to both tour the new facility and celebrate its existence.

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