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Kalamazoo's Year Of The Pet: Humane Society Breaks Ground As County Shelter Nears Completion

Sehvilla Mann

These are encouraging times for pets in Kalamazoo. The Humane Society says after years of cramped, makeshift quarters that it’ll break ground on a new building next month, while Kalamazoo County has almost finished its new Animal Services shelter.

Both the County and the Humane Society have hoped to improve their facilities for years. Until recently the Humane Society operated out of a repurposed bridal shop on Westnedge Avenue, alternating cat and dog spay-neuter days, with animals in various stages of prep stashed in every corner. It's movied on to slightly roomier but still makeshift quarters. Executive Director Aaron Winters says a dedicated building will let KHS expand the spay-neuter program, the pet food bank and veterinary services.

A floor plan for the Kalamazoo Humane Society's new building
Credit Kalamazoo Humane Society
The floor plan for the Kalamazoo Humane Society's new buildling

KHS has raised about $5 million from the project, Winters said Thursday at the offices of Zhang Financial on Oakland Drive in Portage. Philantrhopists Charles and Lynn Zhang were the principal donors and Winters says the building will be named in their honor. The building will sit on about 20 acres at River Street and the I-94 Business Loop in Comstock Township. 

"When the animal can be helped, and can stay in a home, whether it’s through medical care or an emergency food bank, it keeps an animal off the streets, it keeps an animal out of a shelter that’s already full and it keeps a family together," he said.

The grounds will also include a memorial garden where people can bury their pets.

Winters says that over the years, through word of mouth, the Kalamazoo Humane Society has become a regional service for about a dozen counties.

County Animal Shelter

Kalamazoo County has nearly completed its new animal shelter, says County Parks Director Dave Rachowicz. The new building on Lamont Street replaces a building that no one is sorry to leave. Animal Services Director Steve Lawrence says it was poorly designed, with an HVAC system that spreads diseases. Cat housing that faces kennels with large, barking dogs has, unsurprisingly, gone unused. 

There's none of that at the new shelter, Rachowicz says. The air handling system will isolate disease. Cats and dogs will be appropriately housed, with an eye toward facilitating adoptions.

"The aesthetics turned out really nice too," he added. "It’s really welcoming and I think the public’s really going to be pleased with how it presents the animals that are housed here in Kalamazoo County."

Rachowicz says severe winter weather set the project back slightly, but it’s still on-budget. The county plans to open the shelter this fall.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.
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