Before the Wellington Humane Society opened their doors in late 2019, prospects for unwanted and stray animals in Sumner County were bleak. The city’s animal control officer kept stray dogs in “a wire shed out at the dump,” said Linda Stewart, animal-lover and long-time resident. In 1998, Linda Stewart organized The Jack and Jeanne Mitchell Trust for a no-kill shelter in Sumner County as a tribute to her animal-loving friend who had passed away. The Trust grew slowly over the years with numerous fundraisers, individual donations, and a sizable monetary gift from John and Linda Stewart. Several years ago, the city of Wellington donated the land. Construction finally began in 2017.
“It has taken a lot longer than we’d hoped, but it will be worth it,” said Stewart.
The new shelter is designed around the entry lobby so that it can function with minimal staffing. There is holding for up to 29 dogs, 42 cats in crates as well as 2 large cat colony rooms for up to 10 cats each. In the first seven months of operation, the facility was already having a positive impact with 142 adoptions completed. This compares to the previous year where only 7 cats found homes and 63 had to be euthanized.
Reichenberger sums up the project’s success, “It’s a beautiful facility, truly a place of pride for the community.”
Animal food storage pantry and food prep area
Food/water bowl dish washing
Reception desk in lobby with seating
The facility offers two private visitation rooms for one-on-one time to evaluate a potential pet and security measures to prevent any attempt to steal them.
It’s a dogs life
Visitors can view dogs up for adoption through the windows off the lobby or by walking down the corridor of glass-front stalls. Each run is furnished with a comfy bed and doggie doors so they can help themselves outside for elimination or exercise. Spaces are easy-to-clean with a high-pressure water and disinfectant spray system. The sloped floor drains into a stainless-steel-covered channel along the wall. Additionally, outside runs are partially shaded by deep eaves on the building. Gate access onto larger play yards can be opened when its time for energetic pups to stretch their legs.
“The dog runs work great,” says facility manager Duane Reichenberger. “They’re easy to clean,” he continues, which is good because every surface has to stand up under frequent disinfection. Reichenberger happily reports that unlike many animal facilities, the building is not plagued with bad odors or flies. The facility is designed with a DOAS, or dedicated outdoor air system, to keep the air fresh.
Here Kitty, Kitty
Visitors can enter two cat colonies furnished with climbing towers to visit with the felines. Additionally, cats have 30 individual holding crates and 12 isolation spaces for strays until they are cleared for adoption.
Animal Intake Features
Enclosed sally port for vehicles
Triage room for vet exams
Separate holding for strays under observation vs. pets ready for adoption
Vet Clinic: Location, Location, Location
Shelters need veterinary services for neutering, vaccinations, and other health care so, the facility was designed to attract a veterinarian to conveniently set up practice in-house. As an added bonus, traffic from animal-loving pet owners for their pets’ routine care could hopefully increase adoption rates.
The veterinary suite
Separate entry and waiting room
Office & Reception
Surgery and holding for pre- and post-surgery
Landscaping the Site
The 3-acre site has low-lying, wooded areas prone to occasional high water levels so the site plan includes a rain garden with bioswales to help mitigate runoff and flooding.
The pet-loving community can bring their dogs out to enjoy the large off-leash dog park adjacent the facility. Reichenberger reports the controlled vestibule and gating system is “easy to manage as dogs enter and exit,” and continues “the Bermuda grass is wearing well.”