Friday, June 12, 2009

Kansas Humane Society holds sale ahead of move

The Wichita Eagle

A boxer mix waits to be adopted at the Kansas Humane Society on Thursday, June 11, 2009.

Jeff Tuttle/The Wichita Eagle

Alex Stinger and her niece, Britney Bayer, 8, plays with Maggie, one of the pets up for adoption at the Kansas Humane Society on Thursday, June 11, 2009.

Jeff Tuttle/The Wichita Eagle

Volunteer Aaron Jennings holds one of the dogs up for adoption at the Kansas Humane Society on Thursday, June 11, 2009.

Gallery: Mosaic installation at new Humane Society facility

video: tour the new facility

Video: adopt a pet for a reduced fee

Next week the Kansas Humane Society will close its facility at 4218 Southeast Blvd. and move into the new Murfin Animal Care Campus at 3313 N. Hillside. Some related dates and events:

• Today-Sunday: Moving sale. In hopes of adopting out as many pets as possible before its move, the society will cut adoption fees to $33.13 (its new address).

• Tuesday: Last day to adopt or give up a pet at the old facility.

• Wednesday: "Pet Caravan." More than 150 volunteer "pet buddies" will accompany animals from their old kennels to their new condos, lofts and "kitty cities" at the new building.

• Wednesday-June 21: All stray or relinquished pets should be taken to Wichita Animal Services, 3303 N. Hillside.

• June 22: Grand opening. After a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting at the new campus, facilities will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
It's almost moving day for Reba, Chewie, Fiona and Bob. They and nearly 200 other animals at the Kansas Humane Society will move next week to the nearly complete Murfin Animal Care Campus in northeast Wichita.

Before they say goodbye to their old building, though, Humane Society officials have slashed adoption fees in hopes of reducing the number of pets they'll have to move.

"The fewer animals we have to transfer, the less stress on the animals," said Jennifer Campbell, director of communications for the society. "This (sale) helps us and helps the public."

Today through Sunday, the adoption fee is $33.13 -- the address of the new campus on North Hillside -- and includes spay or neuter surgery, basic vaccinations and a microchip.

Normally, the fee is $135 for dogs and $95 for cats.

Employees have spent the past several months packing files, kennel supplies, office equipment and more to prepare for the move.

On Wednesday, more than 150 volunteers will serve as "pet buddies," escorting animals to new suites, condos and "kitty cities" in the $10.2 million Murfin facility.

"It's an exciting time, but it's also a lot of work, and we have to be really aware of the stress it puts on the animals," Campbell said. "We want to make it as smooth and as easy for the pets as possible."

The new campus includes two buildings -- one for the Humane Society and one for Wichita Animal Services, which moved over in April -- and is likely to be a model for animal care groups around the country.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house is scheduled for June 22.

Crews were still working on the new building Thursday, sealing floors, painting and attaching numbers to the animal suites and kennels.

Dogs will be housed in glass-enclosed "canine adoption suites" and cats in kitty cities or condos, rooms designed to mimic living rooms and make the adoption process more pleasant for families and animals.

New features include lots of natural light, intended to maintain the pets' natural sleep cycles, and classical music to block external noise and reduce anxiety.

Walls are painted green, gold, blue and burgundy. Specialized ventilation systems eliminate odors and decrease the spread of airborne diseases. Epoxy floors can be easily sanitized by high-pressure washers located throughout the facility.

"The whole idea is to be warmer, more colorful, more welcoming to people and animals," said Katie Chrapkowski, communications specialist for the society.

One of the biggest changes will be the way in which animals are first admitted.

All pets being relinquished by their owners will go directly to the society. Stray animals will go to the city side, where they will stay for three days to give owners time to find them. After that period, animals believed to be potentially adoptable will move to the Humane Society building next door.

Columns marked "found," "lost," "let go" and "adopt" will lead people to the appropriate areas of the new campus, Chrapkowski said.

The society's portion of the campus can house 183 dogs and more than 225 cats. Fourteen "small mammal studios" will house animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and hamsters.

Employees are especially excited about some behind-the-scenes features, including a laundry room with commercial-grade washers, a food prep room with a restaurant-style dish washing station and a spacious clinic for two full-time veterinarians.

Back at the society's 50-year-old building in southeast Wichita on Thursday, Alex Singer and her 8-year-old cousin, Britney, spent time with Maggie, a 9-month-old Great Pyrenees mix Singer was considering adopting.

"I come here every so often just to see what they have," said Singer, who lives near Tulsa. "I saw her and thought she seemed so sweet."

Singer didn't know about the Humane Society's impending move or the new campus but said she might check it out next time she's in Wichita.

"We love dogs," she said, as Britney and Maggie played fetch with a tennis ball. "That's great that they'll have a new place."

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or

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