Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a $6 million Housing Cook County’s Animals grant to help pay for a new animal resource campus for the South Suburban Humane Society.
The grant was announced at a press conference Thursday with Preckwinkle joined by county Animal and Rabies Control Administrator Tom Wake, Deputy Director Mark Rosenthal, SSHS CEO Emily Klehm and a rescue dog named Mr. Belvedere.
“Mr. Belvedere and so many animals like him are able to make their way out of horrible circumstances to lead happy lives with loving families because of the commitment of the caring people who work and volunteer at our shelters,” Preckwinkle said. “Our pets are members of our families. We have a responsibility to ensure that all of Cook County’s animals have the happy ending that Mr. Belvedere has.”
Preckwinkle said the way animal care facilities operate has changed and the local facilities don’t reflect that. The program is aimed at addressing overcrowding at government-operated and nonprofit animal shelters and providing housing for animals impounded by the Department of Animal and Rabies Control.
Klehm said SSHS has 10 municipal contracts to house stray pets.
“Our shelter in Chicago Heights wasn’t originally built as an animal shelter,” she said. “So, we made it work.”
A separate $2 million grant was awarded to the city of Evanston for another facility. Funding came from fees collected during pet rabies vaccinations, Preckwinkle said.
SSHS currently has facilities in Homewood and Chicago Heights. The Homewood adoption center was renovated last year.
“We have been in negotiations with several communities but we are not ready to announce where the (new) building will be located,” Klehm said. “We hope to make that announcement in the next few weeks.”
The new facility will be more than twice as large as the current one and will include a spay and neuter clinic, low-cost veterinary clinic, several isolation and holding areas to limit disease and stress among animals, an outdoor “catio,” indoor and outdoor meet and greet areas, an administrative and volunteer office space and walking trails.
There will also be upgrades to heating and air conditioning to decrease disease and odor and separate entrances for adoptions, intake and clinics. And plans include an education and event room with an outdoor patio for classes, birthday parties and groups.
SSHS has partnered with Brewing for Good Coffee to brew and sell their vegan fair-trade coffee in the lobby.
About $2.5 million will need to be raised to pay for the facility. The humane society is offering naming rights to the building as well as individual rooms and portions of the site. Donors can name the adoption center, the spay and neuter clinic, a barn and walking trails, among other possibilities.
For more information, visit www.newhomeforsshs.org.