Harbor Style November 2017 : Page 73
Building a Future —by Camille Cline We need your financial support to build our new home! HARBOR STYLE | 73
Suncoast Humane Society: Building A Future
We need your financial support to build our new home!
When Suncoast Humane Society shared the news with Elsa and Peter Soderberg of Boca Grande that now is the time for its $9-million fur-ever home, the Soderbergs enthusiastically agreed with a lead kick-off gift of $1 million.
Just as it has provided forever homes for nearly 100,000 animals since its doors opened in 1971, Suncoast Humane Society needs a little tender loving care of its own. The pre-1970s house, which is the Society’s current location, was added onto in the ‘70s, ‘80s and again in the mid-‘90s. A 2012 assessment of the facility by shelter architects and engineers determined that its structure, HVAC and plumbing are sorely inadequate to properly care for the animals entrusted to the shelter. Some pets wait weeks or even months for their forever homes. And the 1.15 acres upon which it sits cannot be re-purposed or expanded upon in any way due to zoning codes.
“It originated as the Englewood Animal Aid Society in the 1970s and each add-on to the house was built to current code, but not ‘animal shelter code,’ as it is today,” said SHS Executive Director Phil Snyder. “Some areas have AC and some do not. I’ve spoken to builders and contractors through the years to see how to make our current space more comfortable for the animals and friendlier for our customers. We spent over two years talking with Charlotte and Sarasota counties, forest preserves and North Port City officials trying to locate a new site.”
The average life-span of an animal shelter, built to yesterday’s standards, can be less than 20 years, which means the SHS shelter has far out lived an acceptable safety and comfort level for animals.
After years of research and planning, Suncoast Humane Society, a nonprofit organization wholly funded by support from donors, found the perfect location, totaling 11. 5 acres for its facility and grounds. This location would allow a clearer path to fulfill its mission to reduce the number of homeless animals and improve their quality of life. In 2015, the Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of land, just down the street from the current facility. “We learned of a bank foreclosure and purchased the land for $327,000. That same property had been purchased for $2.5 million in 2006,” Snyder said.
He added that the SHS Board of Trustees were very excited over the purchase and was ready to move cautiously ahead. The Board, comprised of President Corey L. Dean, Vice President Joanne Weaver, Secretary Julianne Greenberg, Treasurer Terri Griffith, members Simone Coseo, Richard C. Harms, Nat Italiano, Thomas E. Murtha and honorary members Leslie Edwards and Bobby Miller, wants the facility to be just what the community needs. Building a humane society animal shelter can be very expensive. “The most expensive room in your house is your bathroom; if you put 250 of those together, it can be quite expensive,” Snyder said. “After speaking with consultants, we felt the necessary support from our donors and the community was possible. And then along came the Soderbergs and we’re off and running. They have really helped to build our confidence.”
Elsa and Peter Soderberg, philanthropists who have lived in Boca Grande since 2006, hope to inspire others to provide better services and care to our area’s animals. “They have a great love and respect for animals,” Snyder shared. “Elsa is a member of the Boca Grande Women’s Club, and its Boca Bargains donates leftover goods to the Suncoast Humane Society Thrift Store. The Soderbergs have been in the SHS family for some time and consider Suncoast Humane Society one of the top nonprofit organizations in the area” (voted Best Nonprofit in 2015 by the Englewood Sun). Snyder received a call from Elsa and Peter asking for a meeting. Peter said, “You need a good jumpstart for this campaign.” Snyder was delighted with the outcome.
Originally an estimated $8-million project, rising construction costs have increased the estimate to $9 million. This will include the facility, land development, parking and multiple dog walking areas. There will also be an all-purpose community meeting room. All of the land needs to be cleared.
As 2017 nears its end, Suncoast Humane Society is poised to take the next step in making the facility a reality. The Board has moved from early-stage preparation and initial investments into land and site planning. The full Silent Phase of its Capital Campaign has begun. When completed and operational, the new facility will allow for Suncoast Humane Society to care for animals in a beautiful, functional, comfortable and safe environment.
Open Admissions. Open Hearts. How We Help and What We Do
One of the few “open admissions” animal shelters in Florida, Suncoast Humane Society serves primarily Charlotte County, Sarasota County, Boca Grande and beyond. We are blessed to be home to a haven such as the Suncoast Humane Society, whose programs and services help 50,000 animals and people each year. Lost pets can be reclaimed by their owners at the Animal Care Center. The staff retains lost-and-found reports in order to reunite even more pets with their lost families, reducing the stray population. In this way, fewer animals stay lost and the number of unclaimed pets is reduced. Abandoned and abused animals find refuge in the Animal Care Center, receiving 2,500 homeless pets a year.
The Pet Adoption Program finds forever homes for the animals, with the staff and volunteers supporting these efforts at the Animal Care Center plus five satellite adoption centers. Adoptable pets get the star treatment via the popular “Dog About Town” Program, matching pets with people at venues throughout the community.
“Since moving to Florida 15 years ago, we have adopted three dogs from this fine organization,” Sal C. told the Suncoast Humane Society. “Every time, they were patient with us as we interacted with each dog; we saw them in various settings and they answered all of our questions. All three have been successes beyond our imagination. In fact, my current dog, Logan, is the best dog I have ever had and I have had many over my life. This organization is highly recommended for their care of the residents, patience and commitment to the wellbeing of all involved.”
In addition, foster care volunteers give temporary homes to sick, injured or under-aged animals, providing the special care and attention necessary to restore their health and well-being. Their wonderful work ensures pets are ready to be adopted.
The Preventive Care Clinic offers affordable vaccinations, microchip insertion to decrease pet loss, and other health services, Such as heartworm and flea and tick prevention. It also encourages every member of our community to properly care for our animals through its No Birth Campaign, providing inexpensive spay and neuter services, reducing the number of unplanned animal births and educating the public on the importance of spay/neuter policies.
Did you know that the Shelter Angel Medical Fund helps animals with special needs at Suncoast Humane Society? Generous donations have given suffering Shelter Angels a new lease on life, curing all kinds of ailments and getting them to their new families faster. For instance, Fenway, a Boston Terrier, was brought to the Society with a severe skin condition. But careful skin treatments, medicated baths, antibiotics and follow-up care allowed Fenway to not only become adoptable, but adopted in relatively little time.
Some dogs make the grade to join the Therapy Dog Program at Suncoast Humane Society, which retains more than 50 teams of trained therapy dogs and owners. Their dedicated handlers volunteer their time and skills so that patients in hospitals and health care facilities may be comforted, encouraged and engaged by these dogs. Requests come from all over the community, including schools, libraries and special-needs facilities. “Doggie Tales” teams visit with children of varying reading abilities and serve to build the children’s literacy skills in a supportive way. When tough times hit families in our area, the Pet Food Pantry provides temporary assistance to pet owners struggling financially. This support means families do not have to surrender pets they can no longer care for or put their forever friend’s health at risk due to lack of nourishment. The Pet Food Pantry is stocked by donors with quality dry, moist and canned foods.
The worst times, of course, are those no one can properly plan for. But Suncoast Humane Society does all it can to relieve victims of natural disasters, such as our recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The current facility served as command center for animal rescue, relief and assistance during Hurricane Charley, offering centralized activities for national, state and local responders so they could provide assistance in an efficient manner, giving hope to distressed families.
No matter whether you serve as a therapy dog handler, a foster care parent or a volunteer at the Animal Care Center, thrift stores or one of its satellites, there are limitless ways to help abandoned and ailing animals at Suncoast Humane Society. Volunteers lend their valuable time and talents to benefit all its programs and services, including animal socializing, dog walking, cat cuddling, customer service, thrift store help, clerical and office support and fundraising and event staffing. Because the Suncoast Humane Society is such a robust organization with many responsibilities and outlets for its community of pets and pet lovers, it offers engagement opportunities for every type of person, regardless of limited incomes or limited time. Caring and cuddling a kitty takes only a little time and a lot of love.
A Forever Home for SHS Comfortable. Safe. Efficient.
Most architecture firms do not often have a chance to design an entirely new facility exclusively for animals. But architect Rick Bacon has been successfully designing them for two decades, including the Atlanta and Jacksonville Humane Societies. He and his team wanted to be sure they captured the needs of Suncoast Humane Society and drafted the best shelter using the most updated building materials.
A must is a totally enclosed, state-of-the-art Animal Care Center with sufficient room for adoptable pets, animals being treated and those awaiting adoption evaluation. Its aim is to provide humane care and comfort to as many as 300 animals entrusted to Suncoast Humane Society on any given day. It will be animal friendly, customer friendly and staff efficient. Adoptable pets will be able to greet visitors and future families in a more “take me home” fashion, increasing adoptions.
In addition, the Preventive Health Care Clinic will include a spay/ neuter surgery suite with pre-op, post-op, and recovery for the safety of the animals. To meet the physical and emotional needs of homeless dogs, modern comfortable kenneling and canine rooms are planned. For family-ready felines, free-roaming adoption catteries will be offered.
The Exotic Pet Room gives a great environment for small pets of various species, including rabbits, ferrets and birds. All of these amenities will be installed with fresh-air exchanges to provide a healthy atmosphere for the animals. When it’s time for exercise, long walking trails have been drawn into the design. This allows for a safe outdoor experience and helps to keep pets socialized and prepared for new homes.
Humane education is central to Suncoast Humane Society’s vision, which sees a time when our community celebrates the human-animal bond and when all fellow beings are treated with care, compassion and respect. The planned community education room brings together staff and members of the community, including families, to learn about the humane treatment and needs of animals, overpopulation problems and wildlife at risk in our community. This room will also allow space for staff training, including animal handling, breed identification and appropriate health and sanitation procedures. Community and civic groups will be encouraged to reserve the space for their functions.
With an expected increase in the number of sheltered animals as the human population of the area grows, the new facility is designed to withstand the rigors of housing thousands of animals a year, and up to 300 at a time, in a safe environment. With a $9-million price tag, Suncoast Humane Society has identified the best possible solution to deliver on its mission for many years to come. Full of natural light, where cats can be playful or at rest and dog runs open to the dog populations for all sizes and breeds playing and exercising, this refuge offers HVAC exchanges, for a healthy environment, that meet industry standards. Floors and surfaces will be easily cleaned and disinfected.
Every animal that comes through the Society’s doors is greeted with care and respect. Many animals were never vaccinated or provided with appropriate medical needs. Some are infected with Communicable diseases or susceptible to catching them. Diseases such as distemper and parvo virus in dogs or panleukopenia can be fatal. Until an animal has been examined in a well-ventilated, secure environment by trained medical staff using best practices, an animal’s status is a question mark and must be treated as such. A facility of the quality needed by Suncoast Humane Society requires much more than just a comparable commercial or residential building. It’s a care facility built to resist these diseases and quell the spread of illness. The alternative — infection of an entire shelter’s population and resulting mass euthanasia — is too horrible to contemplate.
Prevention is simple. Specialized features include:
• Separate HVAC systems to prevent the spread of airborne diseases
• Plumbing that can handle the waste of hundreds of animals
• Seamless, disease-resistant flooring and walls that will not harbor deadly disease
• Individual, sanitary housing, kennels and cages
• Properly equipped veterinary facilities for shelter animals and those belonging to the public
• Separate isolation rooms for the treatment and healing of sick animals
Suncoast Humane Society is a jewel in the crown of nonprofit animal shelters for the counties it serves, earning a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, its highest ranking for a nonprofit organization. In order to welcome its community, the building will be a venue for social events, so the appearance, ventilation and noise control are critical. The new home of Suncoast Humane Society will serve as a gathering place for people of all ages: our youth, who will learn responsible pet care and compassion for all living things; our adults, who will understand the importance of investing in solutions for community education that will save lives; and volunteers, who will enjoy their time even more as they socialize pets for adoption.
Our Dream is Their Need
“I’ve been adopting from Suncoast for many years. My current furbabies were adopted two years ago at the age of three months old. They have turned out to be the most beautiful, loving and precious kitties anyone could ask for. I wish I could adopt them all,” shared a happy client, adding, “A visit to Suncoast is a treat. The volunteers are always positive, eager to help, patient and knowledgeable. The facility is clean and the animals are well cared for. You leave with a smile on your face and a new forever friend. My first and only choice for adopting a furry friend is from Suncoast Humane Society. Thank you.” Over the years, the Society’s clients have become its family. Now more than ever, it’s time to say thanks and show gratitude for the years of companionship provided to our families through adoptions as well as the community awareness Suncoast Humane Society gives about the growing need to help all species. Suncoast Humane Society relies on crucial support from its family – individuals, businesses, trusts, foundation grants, wills and bequests.
As the $9-million capital campaign for the new facility gains steam, donations from people like you will help to open, maintain and develop the Society’s much needed new home. Without you, it cannot make the impact it is planning over the coming decades. This new facility and grounds are the Society’s way of saying thanks and showing how grateful it is to each and every one of you.
The capital campaign for the new Suncoast Humane Society facility offers many ways to get involved so that its resources last for decades. Helping Paw Recognition Levels start at $10,000.
Sponsorships of $10,000 and above will be given name recognition on the Helping Paw Giving Wall, on the Donor Tree of Life, to be located in the new Animal Care Center Lobby. Upper levels include Bronze Paw donors at $100,000, Silver Paw donors at $250,000, Gold Paw donors at $500,000 and Platinum Paw donors at $1 million. The Society will also recognize donors in its communications, on its website and Facebook Page.
To better understand the costs to build and maintain a quality care center such as the one envisioned by Suncoast Humane Society, a guide to giving has been provided:
Total Project Cost: $9,000,000
With any new building, operating costs increase. Bigger, better spaces mean larger need. Suncoast Humane Society has established an endowment to support its operating costs through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Donor-advised funds, program funds and endowment resources will ensure animals and visitors are welcomed and cared for in the most professional way possible.
The Soderbergs Pet Patrons and Fans of the Gulf Coast
In 1947, Elsa Soderberg’s father bought a small home in Naples for seasonal visits. She recalls fond memories of her childhood spent in Florida. In 2006, she and her husband of 50 years, Peter, decided to move from Naples to Boca Grande, in part because it’s such a dog-loving area.
“My first memory as a child was of my loving mother. The second was of our dog, Skippy,” Mrs. Soderberg shared. “He guarded my pram and later became my first playmate. Skippy was the first of many dogs that have enriched my life of 72 years. My husband, Peter, shares the same deep affection for our canine companions. The unconditional love, loyalty and trust they have given us wasn’t always deserved, but always gratefully accepted.”
As co-chair of Boca Bargains, which sells furniture, shoes, clothing and other items as part of the Boca Grande Women’s Club’s fundraising efforts, Mrs. Soderberg takes gently used but unsellable blankets and towels to the shelter for the animals, along with other supplies. “That’s how I got to know Suncoast Humane Society on a deeper level. And the all-volunteer Women’s Club holds a dog show fundraiser every other year to benefit the shelter.”
The Soderbergs were moved by the good work Suncoast Humane Society does for its community of people and animals as well as their own personal experiences with their adopted pets, the happiest they’ve ever known. They hope their gift will spare some of the misery that abandoned and abused animals suffer and inspire others to help them too.
Help Us Build Our New Home
Animals and people NEED Suncoast Humane Society’s help.
Homeless animals NEED a safe and secure environment while they await their forever homes.
Pet owners NEED affordable preventative health care services for their furry friends.
In order to meet these needs, Suncoast Humane Society desperately NEEDS a new home, and the Board of Trustees needs YOU to make that happen.
Whether you are new to giving or have a long history of philanthropy, please consider Suncoast Humane Society’s Capital Campaign: Building a Future as you plan your philanthropic gifts for this and coming years.
Visit www.humane.org to learn more about the ways in which you can actively support the Capital Campaign, whether it’s through:
• Becoming a Helping Paw – Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze
• Becoming a Corporate Partner
• Remembering Suncoast Humane Society in your will
• Volunteering to help with the campaign
• Donate – Donate – Donate