by Jeff Pederson
For The Beacon
For the past 55 years, the Humane Society of Sheboygan County has served as a key community resource providing community assistance on a wide range of animal issues from its shelter headquarters at 3107 North 20th St. in Sheboygan.
Whether it is assistance with a lost pet, managing a pet’s behavior, pet adoption services, low-cost spay/neuter surgery or other local pet assistance programs, the Humane Society of Sheboygan County has always been there to help local pet lovers.
Now it is time for the Humane Society of Sheboygan County to ask for some help as it kicks off a capital campaign to build a new animal shelter.
The public phase of the capital campaign kicked off on Thursday, March 21.
As a non-profit organization, the Humane Society of Sheboygan County is not supported through local or state tax dollars.
“Our current shelter was built in 1964 and it is now 55 years old,” Humane Society of Sheboygan County Executive Director Andrew Viglietti said. “It has served its purpose, but it has outgrown its efficiency. It is too small to handle the 3,000 animals that come through the doors annually and to facilitate the 1,900 pet adoptions that we do every year.
“We need more room for our adoption services,” he said. “Our shelter is small by today’s standards and presently doubles as a office space, adoption center, surgical suite and employee/volunteer break room. We have definitely outgrown the space we have and the time is now to expand our facility.”
The new Humane Society of Sheboygan County shelter will be constructed on adjacent property along North 21st Street in Sheboygan that was donated to the Humane Society by the Muth family in the 2016.
In addition to providing adequate space the animals, it will provide so much more for the Humane Society staff, volunteers and the overall community.
“The new shelter will include a full, upgraded surgical suite that will allow the Humane Society to make a greater impact through increased spay and neuter services, and an increased Trap Neuter Return program, as well as taking care of the numerous daily surgical needs,” Viglietti said. “The new shelter will also have a more efficient flow for employees and volunteers creating a better work environment for both. It will also be more inviting and user friendly to the public.
“It will also be better for the animals that come through our shelter,” he said. “Right now, we have up to 25 dogs housed in one room. The new shelter will limit that to five dogs per room. It is much better to isolate the animals with fewer in a room, which will help to make it a quieter environment where the animals will be happier and healthier. Overall, it will be more conducive for the adoption process.”
According to Viglietti, the new shelter will be more than double the size of the current facility.
“We are at about 8,000 square feet at our current shelter and our new facility will be 19,000 square feet,” Viglietti said. “We will have enough space on the property for the building as well as a public dog park. We plan to work with the city of Sheboygan to provide public access to the park, which would be great for the community.”
Viglietti said the list of improvements at the site of the new shelter is lengthy and exciting to everyone involved with the Humane Society of Sheboygan county.
“Starting with visibility on a major road and continuing inside with quieter, more intimate animal rooms, and a catio, where the public can sit amongst the cats and relax with a book or have a cup of coffee, there are so many things to look forward to with this new building,” Viglietti said. “The new building will have a retail store that will allow adopting families to meet all the needs of its’ newest member and finally, it will have a community room that will allow more people to experience the Humane Society. The community room will be a place to hold meetings, day camps, birthday parties, polling for elections, and other similar gatherings.”
Viglietti said the facility currently operates an open adoption shelter talking in pets from Sheboygan County and throughout the United States.
“We take in surrenders and strays from Sheboygan County, as well as abandoned animals that come from other locations in the country,” Viglietti said. “As an open admission shelter, we take all animals and don’t turn any away. If for some reason we are unable to take in an animal, we will work with other shelters to place them.
“Last year we adopted out 1,200 cats and 500 dogs,” he said. “We also have a no-kill policy, which means we do not euthanize for space or length of stay. We only do so in the rare cases of extreme aggression or terminal medical conditions. In most cases, the adoption process can be completed within 24 hours. We average 40 to 50 people a day coming in looking to adopt a dog or cat.”
The Humane Society of Sheboygan County currently employes 20 staff members, including eight full-time and 12 part-time employees, as well as over 100 volunteers.
“Right now, we are actually working out of different locations, due to our space limitations,” Viglietti said. “Our adoption services are stationed at the We Care building, which is the former Nemschoff site, across the parking lot from our shelter, which was made available to the humane society several years ago.
“It will be great to have all of our staff, volunteers, animals and services under one room,” Viglietti said. “The work atmosphere for employees will be markedly better and it will be more welcoming for volunteers, thus offering both staff and volunteers many more avenues to make a difference. We believe that the animals, staff, volunteers and the public will love the new building. Our goal is to become much more than a Humane Society, we want to be part of the fabric of Sheboygan County and to give back to the community that has been so good to us.”
The fundraising goal for the campaign is $4 million with almost 50 percent raised. This is the first time in 55 years that the Humane Society of Sheboygan County has initiated a capital campaign.
“Sheboygan County is such an incredible community when it comes to charitable causes,” Human Society of Sheboygan County Board of Directors President Steve Schmitt said. “We ask Sheboygan County to once again step up and make a difference. A viable and efficient Humane Society will be a great piece of what makes Sheboygan County special.”
Viglietti would like to see the project get under way this summer.
“We have already raised $2 million for the project, so we are half-way there right now,” Viglietti said.
“If we can raise another $750,000 by June 15, we will be able to break ground on July 1, which is our goal. We have a 10-month construction timeline, so if all goes as hoped, the new shelter could be open in spring 2020.”
Viglietti encourages community members to take a tour of the current shelter and to view the planned new site for the facility.
“I would like to invite the public to come in an see our building, which will help them understand our needs,” Viglietti said. “We can arrange tours on a daily basis.
“This project has been in the works for many years,” he said. “About 10 years ago there was an effort in place to build a new shelter, but it did not come to fruition. I was hired in 2018 to help with the development of the new facility.
The first public capital campaign event is at 3 Sheeps Brewing Company in Sheboygan on Saturday, March 23 and is followed by a fundraiser at the Black Pig in Sheboygan on Sunday, March 31.
More events will be scheduled throughout Sheboygan County over the next few months to help continue generating interest for the campaign.
For more information on how to support the Humane Society of Sheboygan County new shelter capital campaign, contact Andrew Viglietti at email@example.com or visit www.adoptsheboygancounty.org/capital-campaign/