Sunday there'll be lots of tail wagging as the cats are joined by 35 dogs from the Nadir shelter.
The move signals the end of trips to the woebegone Nadir shelter. It is officially closed.
It's a long-awaited, red letter weekend for the shelter and the legions of volunteers, sponsors and dedicated staff and – most of all – for the dogs and cats who at long last get to enjoy a state-of-the-art place to call home. At least, temporarily, the Society hopes.
The Neil and Trudie Prior Community Courtyard, which fronts the Cat Cabana, was literally bursting with activity Saturday. The swarm of volunteers were overseen by a particularly pleased looking Joe Aubain, for whom the new campus is named. He stepped down from his 10-year run as society president last year, though he retained his post as chair of the Humane campus committee
While the cats voiced their pleasure at their new circumstances, about six big, burly members of the Carib Riders Motorcycle club checked to see if any more help was needed. The group spent the morning doing something that runs counter to the Harley image – moving the 39 kitties and their carriers into their spiffy new digs.
Turns out, help is always needed at the animal shelter, something Aubain couldn't stress enough as he recalled the bumpy path leading up to Saturday's events.
Ground was broken for the new facility in 2006, at a projected cost of $5 million. Aubain and philanthropist Randy Knight, who donated the first million dollars of the center's fund-raising drive, announced at that time that the opening would be 18 months hence.
Six years later, at a cost of $8 million, the facility is finally open for business, or will be at its official grand opening, which Aubain says will be later this month.
It's been a bumpy six years, fraught with obstacles, labor problems, financial difficulties, and any number of opening dates accompanied by any number of unexpected road blocks. However, Aubain said Saturday the facility should be sustainable, something he said with any number of smiles.
Meantime, Aubain and society interim manager Rhea Vasconcellos ask that folks hold off bringing new animals until Aug. 14, when the facility will be totally prepared to accept them.
"We need some time to get organized before accepting new animals," Vasconcellos said. However, she added, "If there is an emergency, we will respond. Call 643-0796. This number is posted at the Nadir facility, and it details instructions."
The cost for building a modern shelter in the Caribbean is high – about $350 per square foot, according to the society newsletter. The new shelter includes cutting-edge sound- and odor-contained kennels, where each dog will have complete privacy; dog play areas; a real cat house complete with window sills; dog runs; a dog-walking path where members can bring their own dogs; an on-campus animal-treatment center; and an area for the Police K-9 unit, along with an iguana sanctuary, aviary and bunny hutch, dog-walking trails, cat cabana, and the Corinne E. Lockhart Education Center. The Lockhart Companies donated land that made the project possible.
The No-Flea Boutique opened last October. Aubain said the boutique – which is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday – is the Society's primary revenue source. The Boutique has been even more popular than anticipated, Aubain said. "It's been remarkably successful."
The property abounds with plants, trees, birds, iguanas, the deer, a tortoise or two, and the fish that swim in a pond located on Lockhart property abutting the campus. Lockhart Realty donated the 4.7-acre property for the campus, located on the Weymouth Rhymer Highway across from Cost-You-Less.
The new facilities can be toured online at http://www.hsstt.com/about.htm