NewsMontana News


Hamilton animal shelter readies for move into new home

Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 13:00:28-05

HAMILTON — Following years of planning and fundraising, the Bitter Root Humane Association is about to move the critters to a gleaming new shelter.

After years of utilizing an aging shelter against a growing demand for services, the Bitter Root Humane Association finally broke ground on the new shelter in Hamilton last spring, culminating a years-long effort.

“We started this campaign in 2007. And the financial crisis hit a year later, so we had to stop,” Bitter Root Humane Association board member Sue McCormack said.

Now, the new shelter is getting the finishing touches to a facility designed to keep up with the rigors of carrying for thousands of animals every year.

“We used good building materials, but we really waterproofed everything, and we didn't use the best,” explained Bitter Root Humane Association President Kathie Butts. “ We used the most functional and we want this shelter to be here for at least another 50 years, maybe longer.”

Not only will cleanup be a breeze with built-in vacuum and washing systems, but the design is super-efficient. Cats can be handled and isolated to prevent the spread of common disease, stretching their paws on the outdoor "cat-e-ios".

Special rooms are available for treating dogs and cats, right down to laundry and staff facilities, and special kitchens, “but it's for food bowls and it'll wash food bowls in 90 seconds and dry them,” Butts said.

The centerpiece of the new shelter is this big public hallway, where dogs can be viewed, but not disturbed.

“The glass and the glass inside the kennels are two layers of separation that keep all the noise, people, fingers, everything out of those dogs' faces,” Butts said.

“So, when you are looking for a dog and you're looking in this direction, you're going to see the real dog, not the dog that has people running through another dog barking,” Butts continued.

The shelter is designed to handle "cat-astrophe" too. The shelter can be inundated with dozens of animals when wildfire breaks out, or law enforcement has to seize animals. So that's all taken into account, even separating functions like adoption areas.

“We want the animals to be the best they can be. We want people who have to surrender an animal for whatever reason. We want them to feel like they've been honored as well,” Butts explained. “We don't want anybody to walk out of here feeling sad or lonely or anything else. We want this to be a good spot.”

Although the new building is about set to open, there's still going to have to be some fundraising to finish paying for this beautiful new structure.

“We have a fund-raising committee. We have a capital campaign committee. We have done amazing things,” McCormack told MTN News. “We've had some incredibly generous large donors which has made our job a lot easier. But we still [need] meet about $900,000. And so, if you can help us, we would love it.”

The new shelter should open in a few weeks. We'll let you know when.