Rao family offers $100K challenge grant for new SPCA facility in Amsterdam

A man in hard hat points to blue prints

Michael Buckley, interim executive director of Montgomery County SPCA

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AMSTERDAM — Construction of the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ new facility is rapidly progressing and local donors have pledged $100,000 in challenge funds to match all new contributions to help the project cross the finish line.

“We are able to do the work that we do in the community because of the generosity of others,” said Mike Buckley, interim executive director of the MC-SPCA. “This will be a more efficient operation that will result in a larger impact.”

The Rao family has kept up with construction progress since initially donating $500,000 towards the roughly $3.2 million project. The local philanthropists offered another $100,000 in the form of a challenge grant that will top off the total funding goal when matched by community contributions.

“They really wanted to encourage the community to support a project they’re also supporting,” Buckley said. “Finally, the community will have a resource for not only the animals in the community, but the people.”

The funding commitment will enable locals to effectively double their donations towards the new facility that after years of planning is finally under construction and targeted for opening around Memorial Day. Donations can be made online at MC-SPCA.org.

“Thank you for the support of not only the project, but our work in general,” Buckley said, directing his comment toward everyone who has already contributed or will contribute.

The Neena Rao Family Animal Care and Adoption Center for the MC-SPCA is being built at 111 Cleveland Ave., and will be more than double the size of the existing 2,300-square-foot shelter just up the road on Route 5S.

The new facility features a purposeful design to meet the organization’s needs and the modern standards for animal welfare, Buckley said. The level of services provided will be a huge step forward from those at the outdated shelter designed in the 1950s for impounding animals.

“People think that animal shelters just want to round up dogs and adopt them out,” Buckley said. “We want your animal to stay at home with you. So, if it’s low-cost vaccines, low-cost spay and neuter, behavioral training or just to be [here as] a resource so you can keep your animal with you, as opposed to having to surrender it, is phenomenal.”

The building’s potential is already apparent from the variety of new spaces quickly being shaped by bustling workers with BBL Construction. Exterior construction wrapped up with windows and doors installed earlier this winter. Interior walls and subfloors are already in place with crews busy spackling this past week.

Visitors heading to the reception desk will be greeted by views of adoptable felines through windows overlooking the community cat room just off the main entrance. More adoptable kitties will be housed nearby in another room full of 22 cat condos, each with three levels.

Another room further back will feature isolation space for roughly 20 cats until they are prepared for adoption. The area will feature steel cages to limit the possible spread of disease.

Towards the center of the building, there will be a fully functional surgical suite with an adjacent prep room. Separate recovery rooms for cats and dogs are across the hall. The ability to spay or neuter and provide other care on-site will cut down the wait times for appointments at partnering veterinarian clinics for services that must be complete before animals are eligible for adoption.

“That will really add to the work we do,” Buckley said. “There is a veterinarian surgery everywhere, so it’s hard for us to get animals into surgery and that causes their length of stay here to be a little bit longer.”

The new functionality will also enable the MC-SPCA to offer low-cost vaccine clinics and other affordable care. Community space at the heart of the building will be available for educational programming or general staff use. There will also be separate rooms for prospective pet parents to meet and greet adoptable dogs and cats.

The front left corner of the building will feature the adoptable dog room with around 20 kennels in a spacious room with plenty of natural light. Capacity will be boosted about 33%, compared to the existing facility.

“This is sort of the cherry on the top of the whole thing,” Buckley said. “This room is designed to be the most welcoming, adoptable space.”

Another room will hold around 10 kennels for isolating dogs until they are available for adoption. Canine areas will have troughs systems built into the floors for clean and efficient waste removal.

The building will boast a robust HVAC system to maintain constant airflow throughout in order to protect from the potential spread of disease.

Expanded capacity and on-site services at the new facility will enable the MC-SPCA to care for more animals within the community and beyond until they find forever homes.

“Our commitment is always to Montgomery County first, but if you’ve got the space and resources to help animals in other communities … we will do more transports from underserved areas,” Buckley said.

The grounds surrounding the facility will also feature outdoor areas for dogs and patio space for humans to enjoy.

The new facility was planned to meet the needs of the MC-SPCA for the foreseeable future, but the roughly 22-acre site provides plenty of room to expand should the need arise. Agency staff and volunteers are eager to begin serving the community and its pets at the new space in the coming months, Buckley said.

“Finally we will have a facility in Montgomery County reflective of how the community feels about its animals,” Buckley said. “Once we’re here, come visit, learn more about our services and let us know how we can help.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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