Worth the effort

Published 9:23 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We pity the poor soul who winds up working at the Suffolk Animal Care Facility if it’s ever full. With space for 76 dogs and 70 cats, the renovated building, which officially opened on Tuesday, might seem the loudest place in Suffolk if it were full and all of its occupants decided to get vocal simultaneously.

Add to the noise level the sad knowledge of the probable fate of most of those animals barking, howling and meowing for attention from their cages, and it’s hard not to imagine the animal pound, as it once was called, to be one of the most depressing postings available in Suffolk city government operations.

Recognizing that such an environment might not be especially humane for the animals held at the facility — and that it could be hard on the folks taking care of those animals — the Suffolk City Council approved a schedule of renovations that concluded with Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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Folks touring the upgraded building saw that conditions for both humans and animals had been improved. There are new food preparation and grooming areas, examination rooms, a “cat condo” where felines can get exercise and a fenced-in outdoor area where dogs can stretch their legs. All the kennels in the facility are new, as well as the flooring.

Perhaps best of all, though, are the changes intended to make the adoption experience more palatable for the people who visit the facility. The puppy/cat display area now is set up more like a pet store, with windowed boxes rather than wire cages, and three get-acquainted areas have been set up to give people and their prospective pets a place to check one another out.

Those last changes, in particular, could help improve adoption rates, thereby reducing the number of animals that must be euthanized for want of adoptive families.

Already, animals have been saved from that fate by the city’s partnership with the Suffolk Humane Society, which holds a variety of events throughout the year aimed at connecting abandoned and displaced pets with their “forever families.” If the changes at the animal care facility result in even fewer animals being put to sleep — and even more families finding pets to love — the changes will have been entirely worth the effort.