JOHNSTOWN - After more than a decade of planning and gathering donations, the Regional Animal Shelter will begin clearing land over the weekend at the shelter's future site on Maple Avenue Extension, shelter officials said.
The shelter would include approximately 30 cat cages, 50 to 70 dog kennels and five acres of land for larger animals such as horses and other farm animals, officials said.
"There really isn't a rescue around that can take in farm animals that have been abused or neglected, so it is our ultimate goal to have a facility for that," said Renee Earl, an officer with the Regional Animal Shelter. "It has been a long time coming, and finally we can take the step to show people what all of their donations have gone toward. It is so exciting."
For the past two years, the group has been operating a shelter in Gloversville under an agreement with the city. Shelter volunteers look after dogs as long as they aren't sick or dangerous, but the current shelter doesn't have the capacity to house cats. The new building would have space for cats.
Construction at the Maple Avenue site will begin after the contractor examines the land after winter, according to a news release.
The shelter hired contractor Bruce Reed to begin clearing the land at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Earl said the cost to clear the land will be $2,000 to $4,000, which primarily will be the cost of fuel for the equipment. She said the size and cost of the new facility still has to be determined based on the amount of money available. She said group wants to raise $250,000 before starting construction.
Earl said the group has raised about $20,000 so far. She said the group will apply for grants to get it closer to the goal.
"The $250,000 is what we needed to just get the building started," Earl said. "Obviously, there is going to be several different wings to the new facility, so that is just to get us started with a main office and kennel area. We are looking closer to the $500,000 mark for what we really are going to need."
The group has not yet set a completion date for the new shelter.
The group's current shelter in Gloversville operates daily with the help of 12 volunteers. The operation costs the group about $1,000 per month to feed, shelter and meet the needs of the animals at the shelter. The cost doesn't include veterinary services, Earl said.
Last year, the Gloversville Common Council set the fee to recover a lost dog at $10 for the first incident, $20 for the second and $30 for the third. The money from the fee goes toward feeding and caring for the dog while it is at the shelter.
The current building was constructed by the city after the city received a $20,000 donation. The Regional Animal Shelter has been running it.
The city and the shelter group have a four-year lease agreement under which the group leases kennel space to the city for $1 per year and the city rents the building to the group for $1 per year.
The new facility will allow the group to expand its efforts to serve Fulton, Hamilton and Montgomery counties, Earl said.
Officials said the annex on West Fulton Street will remain open during the construction of the new building and will serve as an extension of the new facility and be used as a medical isolation location.
Both the annex and new shelter will be maintained by the Regional Animal Shelter, but once the new shelter is open, the group will seek more volunteers, Earl said.
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.