KENNEWICK -- Shannon Novakovich feels like pinching herself when she thinks about how close the Benton-Franklin Humane Society is to having a new Kennewick shelter that will triple the nonprofit's capacity.
The nonprofit's board president said the new shelter has been needed since she first became involved with the humane society about 12 years ago.
Today, two 80-foot trusses that will act as the main support beams of the new shelter at 1736 E. Seventh Ave. will be installed. The foundation is complete and most of the exterior walls have been framed.
T.R. Masterson Construction of Kennewick started building the 10,000-square-foot building July 5. The humane society hopes to have the new shelter fully-functioning in February, said Ed Dawson, the humane society's operations manager.
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"It's taking shape," he said.
The new facility should make day-to-day cleaning and care of the animals easier, Dawson said. It also will improve the humane society's ability to quarantine ill animals.
The shelter is no-kill, which means no euthanasia is used on animals because of space constraints. Dawson said they also do their best to not accept unhealthy animals.
The bulk of the shelter will contain dog kennels. There will be a large cat and kitten room and a small dog and puppy room, Dawson said. Outside, there will be runs that dogs will be able to use while supervised.
Dawson said the new shelter will house between 100 and 120 dogs and cats, with more of the space dedicated to dogs.
Although the nonprofit receives about an equal number of cat and dog owners wanting to surrender their pets, Dawson said more dogs and puppies get adopted than cats.
The humane society already could fill the new shelter with animals just from its waiting list, Dawson said. The list for adult cats is so long that the nonprofit isn't adding any more to the list at this time.
It has received an increased number of calls from families downsizing from a house to an apartment who can't take their pet with them, he said.
"The need is greater to take in more animals," he said.
And while the need for space for pets is high, Dawson said adoptions are down. He attributes that to some of the economic uncertainty in the area.
The humane society expects to adopt out about two-thirds of the amount it did last year. Dawson said last year the nonprofit found homes for 636 pets. This year, it is on pace to find homes for about 400.
Novakovich said the board is reviewing the adoption policies to see if there is anything that can make it easier for families to adopt while making sure animals go to the best homes.
"This new shelter is not going to be the magic wand," Dawson said.
But it will help alleviate some of the pressure, he said. And having more of a variety of pets available for adoption may help when families come to search for a dog or cat.
The humane society also plans to open a low-cost spay and neuter clinic as the second phase of the shelter project, he said.
Dawson said the nonprofit still is about $300,000 to $400,000 short of the total project cost of $1.85 million. That cost includes everything from the land, construction, cages and kennels and landscaping.
All but one of the subcontractors are local, and many of them have donated to the project, Dawson said.
The humane society is looking at financing, but Dawson said it still hopes to have enough donations come in to prevent the nonprofit from needing a loan.
Selling the old shelter will help defray some of the costs, Novakovich said.
Novakovich said she believes that the nonprofit will receive enough community support to avoid borrowing money for the shelter. The humane society is entirely supported by donations, and as a private nonprofit, it does not receive any money from local governments.
"We need the local folks to pitch in and help us out," she said.
Novakovich said they are thankful for everyone who has helped make the new shelter happen.
"It's really a miracle," she said.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com