COLD LAKE – The Lakeland Humane Society (LHS) has found a new home that will allow them to help a bigger area.
The LHS announced on June 1 that they had purchased the former Tarramara Kennels property, which is located at 43017 Hwy. 55 West, and would be taking possession towards the end of the month.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity for us because it gives us the opportunity to move to a new location, which is almost triple our size and capacity for animals, and not completely have to start from scratch,” expressed Nicole Mbanefo, shelter manager for LHS.
According to Mbanefo, the local humane society has been fundraising for over 10 years to construct a new building that would meet their needs and set a goal of $4 million for the project.
“We’ve been saving, doing special events and fundraisers for money specifically earmarked for the project. As the years went by, we were doing a really good job at saving and the community was very generous with donations, sponsorships, and stuff like that. But it was looking less and less like we were going to be able to build from scratch just because the costs of construction kept going up.”
Even scaling the plans back to make it a more realistic goal wasn’t feasible. Mbanefo said it was looking like they would need to continue to raise funds for another decade before it could become a reality.
It was in April when a board member saw the Tarramara Kennels property was up for sale. After going out and taking a look, LHS decided to make an offer, which was accepted.
A major plus was the size of the space, which Mbanefo said was “our biggest goal because the more space we have, the more animals we can help.”
“We’ve been wanting to expand our region and reach to help more people and more animals from a larger area,” she continued. “Being a rural humane society, there’s not a ton of options in this area if you don’t live in the area of Cold Lake for animal care and rescue. A lot of them are based in larger cities, like Edmonton or Calgary, and there are a lot of municipalities and smaller places in-between here and big cities that don’t have any kind of animal control to help them.”
In their current facility, the LHS has had to turn animals away due to a lack of space and have routinely run overcapacity, especially when it comes to cats. However, that will all change once their new space is renovated.
“We will be able to actually reach out to the entire Lakeland area and take in more animals and help more people who are finding abandoned strays or there’s too many in the overpopulation issue and those kinds of things,” detailed Mbanefo.
Mbanefo estimated the improvements they’re planning for the Tarramara Kennels property will take most of the summer. Although it has kennels for dogs, they need to upgrade the area and add some cages for cats.
“It’s geared more towards dogs so we will have to make it good for the cats as well but basically, right now we only have about 12 dog runs available to us and this new property will almost triple that,” she exclaimed. “They already have the kennels built in there and we will be upgrading them. It’s a great opportunity for us and a very lucky find because these kinds of properties don’t come up often.”
Walking trails and exercise pens are just some of the other options LHS is looking into adding. LHS also hopes to add a space where they can hold events, such as the Bark in the Park.
Although the new location won’t be within city limits, Mbanefo stressed it's just a short drive that would take someone coming from the north “the same amount of time to get there than it does from our current location.”