Moving forward with the Dog Kennel Transfurmation project

A new dog kennel building is our dream and we’re closer to making that happen, in large part, thanks to you who supported our “Dog Kennel Transfurmation” fundraiser last spring. We held the 2018 Saving Pets Challenge, our annual month-long fundraising campaign, and a subsequent Giving Grid matching challenge by a private donor. You helped us raise $100,000 to begin major repairs on our deteriorating dog kennel building.

Last summer we began to collect vendor bids to replace the roof, but then two wonderful donors, Joe and Kelly Sicari, made a $750,000 pledge to help move the project from repairs on the old building to potentially building a new one. They wanted to help us in a very big way, and donated the first $500,000 in December 2018 and challenged us to a $250,000 matching gift for the remainder. We kicked off the matching gift pledge at our 2018 Harvest of Hope gala event and recently reached our goal.  Therefore, the next gift will be made soon, bringing our total capital fund for the project up to $850,000.  This money is now restricted, only to be used for this project.

To begin, we hired Shelter Planners of America, a national team of experts, to conduct a needs assessment so we could determine the best approach to move forward. We began that work in December, 2018, which took several months to complete due to the extent of the analysis. They recently delivered us a draft report on March 27, 2019; we have provided feedback, and they will deliver a final report in early May.

The report provided invaluable feedback after taking the time to understand our workflow needs, including the probable cost of a new building based on market rates. They also suggested the current building is nearing its useful life and it would cost almost as much to repair it as it would to build a new structure.

We are now pursuing building a new kennel, assuming town of Wallkill board approvals – keeping in mind our current maximum budget is $850,000 for this project.

Our next step is to hire an architect to develop a conceptual design of the building, which is needed to develop a Site Plan for a meeting with the town / zoning boards. We will engage an architect to complete the conceptual design in early May, as soon as the Needs Assessment is finalized. The conceptual design process will take a few months to complete, but is the next necessary step forward. Developing a Site Plan and getting approval from the town will also likely take several months, so realistically it could be late in the year before we’re in the clear to solicit bids for the construction work.

While this project is taking longer than we initially thought when we entered the Saving Pets Challenge last year, in the long run, this is a better solution for our animals – and staff, volunteers, and visitors. A new facility will be modern and efficient, saving us money on utilities; a less stressful environment for the dogs; a more effective lobby and adoption area; better organized workflow including administrative, medical, and other needed rooms; and adding other safety features we do not have today.

All this, however, will boil down to what comes out of the town board meetings, whether we gain approval, and the final cost. We cannot however, determine a final cost without that conceptual design. We also do not yet know what we will do with the existing building. That is to be determined and needs to be addressed within the $850,000 budget.

We will keep you posted by early summer when we’ll be completing the conceptual design work. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please reach out to us on

Thank you for your patience and for your partnership in rescue!

From the Pets Alive Board of Directors

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