Animal Humane Society plans innovative new campus

The Twin Cities-based Animal Humane Society says a sprawling new campus planned for St. Paul will push the boundaries of the role animal welfare organizations play in communities across the country.

A recently announced $6 million estate bequest, donated by long-time volunteers Steven Nordberg and Betsy McDonald, will help move the plans forward.

Nordberg, who died in 2020, and McDonald, who died last year, volunteered in the organization’s foster “bottle” program, providing intensive care to orphaned kittens for more than 2,200 hours between 2014 and 2019 .

“This is the biggest donation we’ve ever received and it will also be the biggest project we’ve undertaken,” said Lisa Bonds, Director of Advancement.

Although still in the early stages of design, plans for the new campus have been in the works for several years – the organization has already landed a location and acquired the former Brock White warehouse near Highway 280 and from Kasota Ave.

A conceptual rendering of the Animal Humane Society adoption center and care campus being designed for St. Paul. Courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

Bonds said the new campus will reflect changing animal welfare trends that have been predicted for many years.

Educational and philanthropic efforts, for example, have dramatically raised awareness about neutering and neutering pets, which has reduced overcrowding.

This is especially true in Minnesota.

“We knew that over time the number of animals coming to us would start to drop,” Bonds said.

While adoptions will continue to be a central part of the Animal Humane Society’s mission, the new campus will also allow the organization to further support companion animals who have already found their forever homes.

Plans for the new campus include a pet food and kitty litter distribution center – AHS is already helping stock Minnesota food shelves with much-needed pet supplies and the new space will help the organization to expand its efforts.

“It’s very common for people to feed their animals before they feed themselves and of course that’s not what we want to happen,” Bonds explained.

Emergency or transitional animal housing is another feature being designed for the new campus.

“If someone becomes homeless, or they face a major medical or health situation and don’t have anyone who can care for their animals, we would like to be able to do that for people,” Bonds said. .

The new campus will also provide areas for adoptable dogs to thrive in a group setting based on a concept that AHS has already tested in other shelters.

The design includes a large play area for the dogs to show off their natural pack behavior and “dens” for the animals to retreat to for some quiet time.

A conceptual rendering of the Animal Humane Society adoption center and care campus being designed for St. Paul.  Courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

A conceptual rendering of the Animal Humane Society adoption center and care campus being designed for St. Paul. Courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

Cats will also find upgraded versions of living quarters already in use at AHS facilities.

The “cat colonies” will include glass doors, climbing structures and scratching posts, in addition to cat patios – known as “catios” – where animals can safely explore the outdoors and smell the grass. green under their paws.

A conceptual rendering of the Animal Humane Society adoption center and care campus being designed for St. Paul.  Courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

A conceptual rendering of the Animal Humane Society adoption center and care campus being designed for St. Paul. Courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

The new campus will also offer many reasons for the public to come and visit.

A dog agility class, movie nights, yoga for cats, educational events, and an amphitheater with live music are all included in the early plans.

Bond said AHS staff members visited more than two dozen animal welfare institutions across the country while developing the design and believe the St. Paul campus will be the first of its kind in the country. .

“I see this as AHS leading the way in animal welfare and transforming the way animal shelters change to meet the needs of the future,” she said.

The new facility could open as early as 2025.