Our new building is a milestone for Heartland as an organization and we are thrilled to be sharing this with you. We have compiled an in-depth FAQ page to hopefully answer all of your questions and give you more information on our new home.
If you have any additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Why is it a good idea to move and why are we doing it now?
A: Buying this building and then modifying it to our exact specifications allows us to own and use a modern, up-to-date facility which better serves the needs of our animals, while also providing enhancements for staff, volunteers, and potential adopters. Currently, we lease our facility on a year-to-year basis. Because our rent has increased significantly over the past three years, purchasing our own building became an attractive option. Once the new building is complete, we are much more in control of our future and can plan for the long-term sustainability of Heartland.
Q: Why did we decide to purchase an existing building rather than build our own?
A: The cost of constructing a new facility is considerably more expensive than the purchase and retrofit of an existing building because the cost of materials and contractor labor has greatly increased the past few years. In addition, creating a new structure entails additional architect, engineering, and related costs. Acquiring an existing facility that we can modify as our financial ability allows provides a more conservative approach.
Q: Why are we moving to a location that is not on a main street? Won’t that hurt visibility?
A: A survey of our adopters has shown that the great majority of adopters find out about Heartland from the internet and our website. We feel that our new home in a quiet office/industrial park will be less anxiety-producing than our current home where the traffic noise from Milwaukee Avenue is pervasive. The new location substantially reduces the likelihood of any animals being injured by a vehicle as well.
Q: What changes will be in this building versus the current building?
A: At our current location, we have learned to work around its limitations, but in the new shelter, we can create a more safe, sanitary, and welcoming environment that puts the welfare of the animals at the forefront. Some of the functional improvements we will enjoy in our new building are that we will 1) compartmentalize the cat, dog, and medical areas for noise reduction and ease of use by staff and volunteers; 2) create adequate and safe space for cuddle/meet and greet/adoption activities for dogs and cats; 3) create ADA compliant access to the building; and 4) provide a break room for staff and volunteers outside of general open areas. For cats, there will be four adjoining cat rooms, connected with glass sliding doors, for more of a cage-free feel. There will also be an enclosed outdoor cat patio (“catio”) connected to the building. For dogs, there will be a large indoor play space and another play area which can be used year-round, separate areas for large and small dogs, two outdoor ball runs, and reduced foot traffic in the dog kennel area. There will be a separate medical/surgery room as well as a cat isolation room. A welcoming reception area will provide space and comfort for potential adopters. And staff will have actual offices which are not tiny and cramped! Learn more about our new facility here.
Q: What is this costing Heartland Animal Shelter?
A: The project cost is $1 million, which includes acquisition of the building and the costs to convert an office building to an animal shelter. Thankfully, due to Heartland’s strong donor relationships and balance sheet, we are able to obtain financing from a financial institution for the purchase and utilize Heartland funds to pay for the construction. In the coming year, we will be kicking off a capital campaign to raise funds to reduce or even pay off the loan.
Q: Will the staff or volunteer needs change?
A: We do not anticipate that there will be either a change in staffing or volunteer needs. All our current staff will move with us to the new facility. Volunteer needs will be based on the number of animals housed within the shelter.
Q: What does this mean for how Heartland is operated? Are we trying to grow, become more foster-based, etc.?
A: The purchase of our own shelter means that we can continue Heartland’s mission to find permanent, loving homes for homeless animals and promote responsible pet ownership through education, community outreach and collaboration, while maintaining respect and compassion for all creatures. One of the strategic goals from our 2020-2022 strategic plan was to “seek a long-term solution that will provide the flexibility that comes with owning a property while providing stability for the organization’s future.” This does not imply a change in direction for the shelter. We will continue to foster and adopt animals as the current and post-COVID environment dictates while growth is good, meaning we are adopting more animals (currently ~1,000 per year). The move to a new facility will not significantly change how we will operate.
Q: How will this affect the relationship with Preiser?
A: We are very grateful to Dr. Herbert Preiser for his vision and support in establishing Heartland Animal Shelter, but there has not been a relationship with Dr. Preiser or Preiser Animal Hospital over the last several years.
Q: Why this particular location?
A: When we started looking for a new home for our shelter, our goal was to relocate within 5 miles of our current location so we could maintain our current volunteers and target client base. Because our new location is just 3.3 miles away, we met that objective!
Q: Will we have different hours?
A: Initially, our hours will remain the same, but could be modified in the future based on new information and demand.
Q: Will there still be a med team on-site?
A: There will still be a med team onsite but now it will have its own dedicated new space! There is no basement in this building so the med/surgery room will be on the first floor.
Q: How can I help?
A: There will be many ways volunteers can get involved. One of the ways that we will be looking to save on costs is to engage our great volunteers in a variety of activities, which could include helping with the move (which will likely take place in October and November), painting, and general setting up of some of the spaces. At this particular time, we do not know exactly what those activities will be, but you can be certain that we will be creating a volunteer committee to share these opportunities as they become available.