Healdsburg animal shelter delayed: Over budget, under-funded

From the outside, Healdsburg's new animal shelter appears close to completion, but it is over budget, behind schedule and more money is needed before it can open.

The state-of-the-art, pet-friendly animal shelter was originally scheduled to be open any day now. But higher-than-anticipated costs and lackluster donations for a $1 million "sustainability" campaign to operate the shelter have pushed the projected opening into next year.

"We've had some unexpected costs, higher than what was budgeted," George Dutton, treasurer and member of the shelter's board of directors, said Friday.

Additional funding in the neighborhood of $300,000 to $350,000, is needed to complete the interior of the building off Westside Road, he said.

"We're very pleased the shell will be finished and it will be a secure building," he said of the work that should be complete by Nov.1.

"As far as being able to raise additional funds and finish and occupy the building, we don't know when we'll be able to do that — certainly by spring of next year, dependent on what we can generate in the community," Dutton said

The 7,000-square-foot building is three times the size of the 50-year-old, cinderblock shelter it is replacing across the road, next to the city's equipment yard.

With larger, less stressful kennel conditions and natural lighting, it is designed to house twice as many animals as the 400 to 500 a year at the current facility.

Most of the money for the project was donated from the estate of the late vintner Rodney Strong and his wife Charlotte, animal lovers who designated the funds in their will.

Dutton said the original $3.25 million budget for the project has climbed to $3.5 million.

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