In the 50 years Hi-Tor Animal Shelter has served the county, it’s seen thousands of pets come through its doors hoping to find a forever home. The aging shelter, in desperate need of an overhaul, will finally get a much-needed reprieve, thanks to its legion of supporters and the County Legislature.
County Executive Ed Day on Thursday. October 21, announced a new 14,000 square-foot facility will be replacing the existing 4,000 sq. ft. shelter. Standing on the grounds of Hi-Tor and joined by the Rockland Legislature’s Minority Leader Jay Hood (D-Haverstraw), Rockland County Director of Facilities Management Bob Gruffi; and the shelter president Debbie DiBernardo, Day said the new, state-of-the-art building is “designed to provide a healthy home and promote and facilitate pet adoption in a warm, welcoming environment.” A Requests for Bids went out the same morning as Day’s announcement was made, and he said he expects the County will choose between several builders expected to vie for the project.
Of the $8.3 million it will cost to tear down and replace the old shelter, $472,578 comes from the Hi-Tor Shelter Fund; $500,000 in grant funding from NYS Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D)’ a $500,00 grant from NYS Companion Animal Capital Fund; the remaining $6.6 million will come from Rockland County’s Capital Project Funding. Hood told The Rockland Times the project has the bipartisan support of the Legislature. After the County reviews the bids to do the construction, it expects to award the project and officially break ground in April, 2022 and expected the new shelter to cut the ribbon on its new building by June, 2023.
The new shelter will offer direct access to adoptable dogs, a visible adoptable cats’ area with a large playroom and also offer a new feature—a small mammals and exotic pets housing area. Dog runs will be improved, and an outdoor “visiting” area will be available for clients to meet with potential pets. A counseling room and bonding/get acquainted rooms for potential adopters will also be available. The new building will also offer Veterinarian services, including a central treatment and examination room, a surgery room for spay/neuter procedures, a diagnostic lab and a pharmacy, services the shelter cannot currently provide. It will provide a break-room for staff and volunteers, who DiBernardo says are the lifeblood of Hi-Tor.
Hood thanked everyone who helped make the vision for a new, modern shelter a reality, saying that he and RC Legislative Chair Alden Wolfe had worked for quite some time to get the shelter included on the list of capital projects. The shelter will serve all five of Rockland’s towns—Clarkstown, Haverstraw, Orangetown, Ramapo and Stony Point. “We’re taking the lead in this critical shared service,” said Day. “Towns won’t have the burden of building their own shelters or finding alternate plans; it’s a clear savings for residents and a victory for the animals we all care about.”