BARL nearing completion of new animal facility

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2006

In two short months, the dogs and cats at the Brookhaven AnimalRescue League may be able to move into more spacious livingaccommodations.

Volunteers believe they can have the new facility behind HartleyGove Sons Thermometer plant completed by Christmas, said Ed Gove,whose business has allowed BARL to care for dogs at the presentlocation since the organization got its start many years ago.

The new complex is a major improvement over the currentlocation, members said.

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The 3,000 square foot facility provides an office area, a catcare area, dog grooming room and 14 indoor/outdoor kennel runs fordogs. There is an additional 1,200 square feet of outdoor dog runswith three-quarters of an acre of fenced property being used as anexercise area. The exercise area can also be used in the future toexpand outdoor runs, if needed, Gove said.

The facility will house a maximum of 50 dogs and 30 cats, saidBilly Mitchell, a BARL volunteer who has been instrumental inbuilding it.

“There won’t be any overrun (of additional animals),” he said.”There are similar buildings that house a 100 dogs or more, butthey have a hired full-time staff. It’s not a matter of space. Wecan’t take care of more of them. We can’t afford the medical visitsor food supplies.”

Unlike the Gove Thermometer plant facility, the new facilitywill be able to house cats. Cats are presently kept by localveterinarians who volunteer their cage space.

“We will have a cat colony with an enclosed sun room where catscan range freely,” said volunteer Cathy Mitchell. “We’ll also havea room where cats are kept individually for those who can’t adaptto the colony.”

The new facility also includes “Dog Town,” a scaled-down replicaof an old town composed of dog houses for long-term residents. Ithas a church, mercantile and beach house. Future plans are to add afirehouse and school when an expansion is needed.

Air conditioning will also be added to the facility. The catswill be air-conditioned throughout the hot days, but the officewill only be cooled when volunteers are using the facility, BillyMitchell said.

When the facility is completed, Gove said, the need to bolsterthe organization’s numbers beyond 20 active volunteers will behigh.

“We will have an urgent need of volunteers when we move in,” hesaid. “It will be a much nicer job than it was before.”

Original plans called for a $350,000-400,000 facility, but BARLleaders recognized it was a financial goal they were not likely toachieve for many years. Instead, they scaled back their plans,eliminated most contracted labor in favor of volunteer labor andBilly Mitchell designed a more reasonable floorplan.

The organization began construction about four months ago with$112,000. They need approximately $25,000 more to finish theproject.

“It won’t be a Cadillac, but at least it will be a fancy Chevy,”Gove said.

“Our dogs and cats are going to love it,” Cathy Mitchell added.”It’s all been built by the donations over the years. All the canscollected, all the fund raisers – everything – has been leading tothis.”