Central PA Humane Society expanding to address overpopulation and improve quarantine methods
The Central Pennsylvania Humane Society in Altoona is getting a big upgrade. It’s moving from a building on one acre of land to a new space with eight acres to work with. This comes as overpopulation overwhelms the shelter.
“We just are overwhelmed with the amount of animals that we get in here. We're very overpopulated and don't have the space in here that's needed," said Joseph Zolna, the board president for the Central PA Humane Society.
Zolna said overpopulation has always been a problem, but it became worse when people went back to work after the pandemic and some surrendered their pets.
The added space will let the Central PA Humane Society take in more animals. It will also make it easier to prevent sickness from spreading between animals. Zolna said the shelter recently had an outbreak of feline panleukopenia, which is a highly contagious and life-threatening disease.
“We want to have a more efficient quarantine room and that's one of the things that we are putting in place," Zolna said. "It'll prevent us from transferring it not just within the shelter, but folks who come into the building can also take these things home with them."
Zolna said they’ll also be able to quarantine dogs and cats separately. The shelter currently puts both species in a room together.
The new location is a short drive away from the current building on East Pleasant Valley Boulevard. Zolna said the new location on 6th Avenue will make parking easier for staff and visitors.
"It's actually more conveniently located off the highway. It's less traffic and a lot slower speeds. So it's a lot safer for people to come in and out of as well," Zolna said.
CPHS is planning to build an area for bus parking to host field trips. The new location will also feature a dog park, walking trails, outdoor play area for cats, and an indoor play area for dogs with astroturf. Zolna said the astroturf will have a special wash system.
"So if the dogs are in there, use the potty out in the turf area, it's gonna come down through clean it out for us. Makes it more efficient for the employees, makes it a lot easier for them to clean up after the dogs," Zolna said. "A lot of the time spent with the staff is spent cleaning the kennels and cleaning those areas that the dogs are in."
He said the humane society talked about expansion for several years, but only recently got money from donors to purchase new land.
“I'm glad, really happy that this is coming to fruition after so many years. Almost makes me want to cry," Zolna said.
Zolna said the humane society will launch a capital campaign to raise funds for building construction in the next couple of months. CPHS is also planning to apply for grants.
Groundbreaking for the new building will start next spring. Zolna said he hopes it will be completed by the end of 2024.