Shelter construction to be completed by November

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By Jennifer Garcia

In a few months, Los Alamos County’s homeless pets will have new, improved digs to call home while waiting to be adopted.

Construction of the new animal shelter, next to the Los Alamos Dog Obedience School is well underway. The facility should be finished and ready for occupancy sometime in November.

Construction crews are making great strides in the facility’s progress. Walls seem to have been constructed almost overnight. Project Manager Don Russo said the block walls have been set and crews are working on the exterior of the building.

“All the kennels are done, but the partitions still need to be done,” he said. “We’ve almost completed the framing on the south side and we’re working on the north side, which should be done by the end of this week or next week.”

Russo said the project is on schedule and crews are shooting for a mid-to-end of November completion date. “Everything is going real clean. We have a good contractor (Klinger Construction LLC of Albuquerque) and a good superintendent who checks everything so we don’t have mistakes when we put things in permanent form,” Russo explained.

In addition to being on schedule, Russo said the project is also within budget as of right now. Though the building seems to be going up rather quickly, Russo said that there’s still a lot of work to be done before it’s complete.

“The exterior goes up really fast and the interior seems a lot slower because you have to run electrical lines, data lines, lighting, the sprinkler system, ducting for HVAC and you need to put the rooftop units on,” Russo said. “There’s a ton of stuff that’s left after you put the shell up.” Russo said he really appreciates the architect and contractor working together with the team. “I appreciate the responsiveness, they’ve been excellent,” he commented. “I want to thank the county staff for their support. They helped us tremendously. We couldn’t do it without them,” he said.

Though the design of the new shelter will be much more pleasing to the eye than the current facility, the county’s homeless pet population will be impacted the most by the new building.

Sally Wilkins of Friends of the Shelter said the FOS are “absolutely thrilled” about the prospect of a new facility. “We’re really pleased with the design. We were invited to participate in the whole process from the beginning. The county was generous in allowing us to have input. We’ve been happy with the whole process,” she said.

Wilkins said the FOS participated in the design of the cat and dog rooms, as well as the outdoor kennels, yard and outdoor play areas. “That’s what we really cared about. We encouraged them to have quarantine rooms for cats and dogs,” she said. “The design process went smoothly and they always listened carefully, especially when it came to how the animals could be housed when they’re at the shelter.”

Wilkins also said the new building will provide office and administrative space that the current building does not provide. “The facility they’re currently in is about 40 years old. It was never designed to be a shelter. It has poor ventilation and drainage. The comfort levels will improve enormously,” Wilkins said.

She also said the new shelter will be easier to clean, it’ll be fresher and it will have proper ventilation. “The staff keeps the place we have now as clean as they can. The new shelter will be a much nicer environment,” she said. “I am so pleased with the sort of partnership that happened between the community and the county to make this project happen. We felt very included and appreciated.”