By Reshma Kirpalani
For Reporting Texas and KUT News
AUSTIN — About 120 volunteers and staff members on Thursday began moving animals into the new Austin Animal Shelter, one day after the Town Lake Shelter closed after 60 years.
One volunteer, Pam Gerrittesen, spent the morning trying to socialize shivering puppies as they settle into the new facility.“You are just too cute! You’re going to get a home this weekend I bet,” she said, hugging a chocolate brown puppy.
“Really socialization is a large part of it because the animals that come in here are usually very scared, frightened,” said Gerrittesen, who had volunteered at Town Lake for the past year. “They don’t know where they are.”
The new facility has been in the works for the past five years, since the bond to pay for it was passed in 2006.
Amber Rowland, the communications manager of Animal Services, said that even though animal shelters are usually a “very-low efficiency, high-footprint” operations, the new building is more energy efficient and has earned a gold-level LEED certification.
“But the other amazing thing about it of course is that we have more modern caging and more flexibility in how we can house the animals,” she said. “That will allow us to keep the animals healthier, cleaner, safer and have a cleaner and brighter facility for the public to come and visit.”
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony will open the new shelter, located 5 miles east of the Town Lake shelter, on Saturday morning.