Scamp, a 2-year-old American shelter dog, in one of the current kennels at the Animal Welfare Society. With the new phase of renovations, the floors will be resealed and chain link will be replaced with animal safe tempered glass. Scamp is available for adoption. (Abigail Worthing photos)

KENNEBUNK – Continuing a series of renovations that has taken place during the past year, the next big project has begun at Animal Welfare Society on Holland Road – upgrading dog kennels from outdated chain link to tempered glass.

The Animal Welfare Society opened in 1967 and last year celebrated its 50th year in operation. Through the kindness of its donors, the shelter embarked on a series of upgrades for both the wellbeing of the animals and the building itself, making functional and aesthetic improvements over the course of the last few years.
“So much has changed. I would imagine even those who haven’t been here in the last five years wouldn’t recognize the shelter as it is now,” said Abigail Smith, executive director of Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk.
A large addition was added to the front of the building, providing a spacious entry area and new offices. The shelter also added more rooms for those who want to become better acquainted with their potential new companion animal. The new section is home to the Animal Welfare Society’s on-site clinic. The opening of the clinic in January allowed the shelter to save money by not having to rely on other area veterinary centers for spay and neuter procedures as well as general health care needs. The clinic features new surgical suites, an isolation unit and recovery rooms. Also included was the opening of a new obedience classroom, which has a retractable wall that runs down the center, allowing two classes to take place at once and expanding the number of classes the shelter can provide.
This current phase of improvements to the shelter is already underway, having begun with the replacement of outside kennels walls. Where previously the walls were concrete with metal garage doors, the new walls have banks of large windows that look over an outdoor yard, allowing an unprecedented amount of natural light to shine into the kennels.
To save money during the renovation, the shelter elected to keep as much of the existing fixtures as possible as opposed to completely gutting the building, meaning each kennel is custom and unique to the parameters of the respective spaces. Other upgrades will include removal of the chain link doors and walls with animal safe tempered glass, and the resealing of the cement floors. This will allow for a warmer environment for the dogs and make the kennels more sanitary and easier to clean.
“Chain link is impossible to clean well,” Smith said. “This will make things easier for the workers too. We want to have a nice, clean space for the animals.”
As the shelter has more kennels than dogs right now, the renovations are able to be completed without displacing any dogs. While one kennel floor is resealed and glass installed, the dogs in those kennels are moved to another wing until they can move back post-update.

The renovations for the dog section of the Animal Welfare Society are apparent by the streaming sunlight through the new bay of windows on the left, replacing the former concrete wall with garage doors. Next, the shelter will replace the chain link fencing on the right with animal safe tempered glass to create a warmer environment for both dogs and humans alike. (Abigail Worthing photos)

“Chain link just feels so harsh. This new space will be so open and friendly, especially when people come in to visit with the dogs prior to adoption,” said Assistant Shelter Manager Jessica Talbot.

Following the completion of improvements to the dog kennels, the final phase will be to upgrade cat kennels. Talbot hopes the shelter can secure cat kennels that adjoin with a porthole, so if there are empty crates, a door can be opened and one cat can use two crates at a time for more space. The communal cat rooms received an upgrade earlier this year, with a cat garden placed outside with fauna that would attract woodland creatures for the cats to gaze at during the day, and a “catio,” a fenced in walkway off one of the rooms, which allows cats to safely go outside throughout the day.
The Animal Welfare Society is pairing improvements to the facility with an increase in programs offered to the community. The shelter participates in Paws in Stripes, a program that pairs puppies with inmates at the Maine Correctional Center to be trained for six weeks before being placed for adoption. Humane Educator Brie Roche has implemented new youth programs within the community, including Rescue Readers, during which students build confidence in reading aloud to an animal audience.
Donations for the $300,000 renovation are still being accepted both online and via mail. Those who wish to donate to the shelter can drop off dog and cat food, toys, bedding and used towels. It also accepts second hand pet medications.
“We help everyone who comes through those doors,” Talbot said. “When someone comes in and asks for help, the answer is never ‘No.’ The answer is always, ‘How can we make this happen?’”
The Animal Welfare Society will host a Jingle + Mingle open house 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. The event will feature raffles, craft sales and pets can have their photo taken with Santa.

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