An organization providing an important service to local residents appeared before the Amherst town council’s committee of whole on Monday, March 20, 2023, seeking help in moving towards a viable future.
Mark Casey, Priscilla Casey and Karen Cormier from the Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter, which has served the area since 1987 by taking in stray and unwanted dogs and cats, appeared before the committee seeking a significant capital contribution towards a new shelter.
The new shelter, Mark Casey said, is needed to ensure a viable future because the current structure requires substantial and ongoing upgrades “in order to meet the standards required of us.”
He noted the existing shelter was “not purpose-built to be an animal shelter,” is facing rising heating and cooling costs because the building is not efficient, does not meet accessibility standards, has poor ventilation that results in airborne diseases that costs the organization avoidable veterinary expenses, requires increasingly frequent maintenance, particularly in relation to ventilation and plumbing and is experiencing moisture and mould issues.
Shelter officials hope to begin construction of a new shelter in April 2024 following a capital campaign that is currently underway, Casey said. They hope the campaign will raise the $1.1 million needed to build the new shelter and indicated they have committed $200,000 from their own reserves towards the project.
Casey indicated they will be seeking funding from other government and private sources as well as foundations and the community at large.
“This capital campaign will be a testament to the generosity of our community and the leadership of our municipal partners,” he said.
Casey pointed out the shelter supports canine control for the Cumberland region, which they said provides “value to taxpayers.”
He also noted they are assisted by several volunteers and offer several programs, including the SafePet program that assists women leaving abusive partners by providing temporary care and shelter for pets, and the Mama’s Last Litter Program that helps reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats in the area. The shelter also houses pets during emergency situations like a house fire, quarantines dogs for the mandatory period time for rabies testing and hold dogs that were at large until their owners pick them up.
Committee members, noting the shelter adopted out 454 cats and dogs in 2002 and is on a sound financial footing, applauded the shelter’s board and two full-time employees for the excellent work they do that benefits the town and surrounding area.
As per usual, the committee did not make any commitment following the presentation. They did instruct town staff to examine the request as part of the town’s preparation for the 2023-2024 operating budget.