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North country animal shelters get $800K in state grants as they prepare to meet new statewide standards

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Animal shelters in the north country are set to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding, Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced Friday.

In a news release announcing more than $7.5 million in grant funding awarded to animal shelters across the state, the governor announced that the Jefferson County SPCA in Watertown will receive $200,000, the Potsdam Humane Society in St. Lawrence County will receive $100,067, and the Lewis County Humane Society in Glenfield will receive $500,000. That’s a little more than $800,000 for the north country’s animal shelter system, to be used to improve facilities and help them reach new state standards.

At the Jefferson County SPCA, the money will be used to expand the shelter’s physical capacity and install a new HVAC system.

The Jefferson County SPCA is already undergoing significant renovations, and assistant manager Caitlyn Alberry said the shelter is working to make a number of improvements.

“We just added a new section to the shelter that will improve our medical department, the high-volume spay neuter program that works through us, so we’re improving our medical capacity and improving the care,” she said.

This grant money will help upgrade all the shelter’s kennels for cats and dogs and increase the shelter’s capacity.

The Potsdam Humane Society will use its $100,067 to improve the animal holding areas, update its laundry system, improve the heating system and install new flooring.

“The new guidelines, we have three years to implement them, but it means we need some adaptations to our current facilities, and these funds will help us with them,” said Kathy Hughes, executive director of the Potsdam shelter.

At the Lewis County Humane Society, the $500,000 grant will go toward a new HVAC system for the building, laundry equipment, the construction of a cat isolation room and repairs for damaged shelter structures.

Manager Amber Zehr said she had just received the news, and was elated to hear that the shelter will be able to do so much more; $500,000 was the largest grant given in Friday’s announcement, and only five awards of that size were given.

“It’s exciting, very exciting,” she said. “I’m pretty sure they said we’re going to be able to get more kennels; we can hold more animals which is super exciting.”

With the planned construction of a new cat-specific space, she said animals in the shelter will be even safer, kept separate from other species.

Ms. Zehr said the planned construction at the Glenfield facility will bring the shelter very close to completely in line with the new state standards.

In Potsdam, Ms. Hughes said she is happy to see standards going up across the state, and to see state money come into the Potsdam shelter to help, but said more money will be needed to bring Potsdam’s shelter completely in line.

“This is really the first phase, the first set of steps we have to take to meet those new regulations,” she said. “We will have to go after other funding to help us, because we will in the near future need to expand our facility. The funds we’ve been granted in this first go around are simply for internal changes and improvements.”

She said the organization’s building and grounds committee is meeting to plan future expansion.

The new state regulations come from a measure passed last year, with some changes seemingly made in the state budget this year. It sets a statewide standard for all animal shelters to abide by, with a new system of inspections carried out by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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