Moms and dads, kids and grandparents and aunts and uncles couldn't wait for the doors at the new SPCA Serving Erie County headquarters to open Monday morning.
The SPCA had been closed just over a week for its move from Ensminger Road in the Town of Tonawanda to 300 Harlem Road in West Seneca, and the public as well as staff and volunteers were anxious to get back to business.
Tracy Roberts and Mark Boody of Lancaster came with her niece, Aubrey, 3, to the new building.
"We were looking to see what they got, looking for a puppy today," said Tracy Roberts of West Seneca.
But they were disappointed, not only because they got there before the SPCA opened for adoptions at 11 a.m., but also because there are no dogs at the new building yet. The kennels, which were to arrive three months ago, were delivered Monday. It will take some time to install the 70 kennels in the 52,000 square-foot location.
"I'm hoping by this time next week we should have dogs for adoption, maybe even sneaking them in a day or two before," said Gary Willoughby II, president and CEO of the SPCA.
Once dogs are admitted to the SPCA, they need medical checks and may need neutering, so it takes some time before they are ready for adoption.
"We don't want to do that until we actually have a holding place for them," he said.
There's still work being done at the building, situated across the street from Erie 1 BOCES. A grand opening, with ribbon cutting, will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 13.
"It's a huge milestone to be here," Willoughby said. "All that hard work of the past has paid off."
[GALLERY: SPCA moves from Tonawanda to West Seneca]
A couple people showed up early Monday to surrender dogs – but admissions of both dogs and cats are taken by appointment only. Before the adoption center opened at 11 a.m., there was a line waiting to get a look at the separate areas for dogs and cats at the new shelter, which has separate counseling rooms for admissions and adoptions.
"It's important for adoptions, it's even more important for admissions," spokeswoman Gina Browning said of the counseling rooms.
Visitors wandered into the feline area, where some cats are held in rooms with plenty of room to play. Others that are not as outgoing, or intimidated by a larger room, are in cages. Visitors also walked outside to the red barn that has chickens, rooster, goats, a miniature horse and Miss Kennedy, a Vietnamese miniature potbellied pig.
Volunteers and staff are still getting used to the building. Some workers were posting paperwork with adoption information on the cages of gerbils – dubbed Curly, Larry and Moe – in the small animal room. Meanwhile, Audubon, the parakeet, and turtles named Gracie and Tabitha, also waited for new homes.
The Petique pet supply store off the adoptions lobby links the lobby with the 6,500 square-foot Lipsey Clinic. The clinic is named for the late Stanford Lipsey, former publisher of The Buffalo News, who donated money for the full veterinary clinic. The clinic should open in early May, Willoughby said. It will be for those who can't afford traditional veterinary care, and who might be in danger of surrendering their pets because of the cost of keeping them.
"Every day we were open somebody was turning in a pet to us because of the cost of veterinary care," he said. "The folks here at the SPCA and the Lipseys identified this as a big need."