After years of delays, Prince William County’s long-promised new animal shelter will open its doors in a matter of days to local furry friends awaiting adoption – and just in time for the holiday season.
“We are gearing up for a transition into the new building very soon,” said Anthony Cleveland, chief of Prince William County Police Department’s Animal Control Bureau Division, in a recent email.
The animals housed in the county’s existing shelter are slated to move into the new facility between Monday, Nov. 22 and Friday, Nov. 26, according to Jeremy Beale, spokesman for Prince William County’s Animal Control Bureau. “Our goal is to have all on-site animals transferred over to the new building by Saturday, Nov. 27.”
While the exact moving schedule could change, Cleveland said the target date to open the western half of the building to the public is Saturday, Nov. 27. The east wing of the shelter, which houses the adoption area, will not be finished until the spring of 2022, explained Beale.
The western wing will house staff offices and the animal holding area. The animal shelter has a staff of 25, and all are expected to work inside the new facility after the animals are transferred, Beale said.
The existing animal shelter was built in 1975 and its replacement has been in the works since 2015. After animal advocates pushed for the cramped 46-year-old building to be enlarged and upgraded, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted in 2017 to build a $14.2 million shelter that would meet Association of Shelter Veterinarians guidelines.
When the initial budget fell short of what was needed, the current board voted in March 2020 to boost the construction budget to $16.7 million. At that time, the shelter was slated to open in the fall of 2021.
The new shelter is more than 27,000 square feet – about four times the size of the existing shelter – and will accommodate as many as 106 cats and 56 dogs.
While the shelter’s staff and resident animals will move into the facility soon, an opening celebration is not planned until the new building is fully operational, which is expected sometime next year, Beale said.
But the wait for a grand opening has not dampened the spirits of local residents who are excited about the opening of the new facility.
In preparation for the move, the shelter posted on its Facebook page last week about a need for new animal beds at the new facility and asked for donations. “Soon our shelter animals will be transferred over to our new facility, and we want to make sure they have comfortable beds to rest their heads on when they arrive. Quality rest reduces stress in adoptable pets. When pets sleep better, they behave better, which makes them more adoptable,” the post said.
One day later, the shelter announced it had reached its target goal for donated beds in just four hours and thanked the community for its support.
“We called and they answered. We expected a few beds to be bought, but all of them was a surprise,” Beale said, adding: “It is always great to see the outpour[ing] of support for the animal shelter. We are very grateful to have a community that cares so much about the health and well-being of our shelter animals.”
In shelter operations, “every little bit helps,” Beale said. The shelter maintains a request list on its website and invites the community to check it out at https://www.pwcva.gov/department/animal-control/donate.
Reach Cher Muzyk at firstname.lastname@example.org