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Animal House

Homeless dogs and cats, puppies and kittens could have a new shelter by the end of 2008 — as the Southern Oregon Humane Society celebrates 80 years in operation, officials say.

"This is not just about sheltering animals, but setting a new direction for Southern Oregon as it relates to animal welfare," said Humane Society Director Bill Templeman, who will announce a capital campaign for the project at 10 a.m. today at 5100 Crater Lake Ave., where the new shelter will be built.

The planned 21,000 square foot building, estimated to cost $3.2 million, is slated for construction this year, and will be almost three times larger than the current building on Table Rock Road. It will offer greatly improved care for feline and canine residents and emphasize community prevention services to address the root causes for animal abandonment, overpopulation and abuse.

The humane society plans to fund the building with contributions of money, products and services.

When the new building is completed, the old building and land will be sold.

The new building will include flexible housing that is easy to clean, and indoor kennels that will provide noise reduction for neighbors, Templeman said.

After 80 years in the same location, the old shelter building has aged beyond repair. Additionally, it cannot be refurbished or expanded because the neighborhood is no longer zoned for animal housing, he said.

"Great strides have been made in animal sheltering," said Templeman. "Our current shelter holds us back at every turn."

The new site will go a long way toward giving abandoned animals a new lease on life and a better shot at being adopted. It will also include adoption suites to create a more "home-like" setting, pet introduction rooms where pets and new potential owners can get acquainted, expanded veterinary services for resident animals and a humane education center, Templeman said.

Homeless animals have often endured considerable trauma by the time they reach a shelter. The goal is to have the new facility up and running, and all the animals relocated to it, before winter weather returns, said Lee Ann Isaacson, the humane society's capital campaign manager. All funds for the nonprofit organization's new home will come from the public, she said.

Isaacson said all the kennels will be covered, which will lower the animals' stress levels.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Tess guards her spot atop the cages in the kitten area of the Southern Oregon Humane Society. - Bob Pennell