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Expanded animal shelter opens doors

The pit bull, pug and cat in the Clarence Animal Shelter couldn't fathom what all the fuss was about, but the human guests were most impressed.

The shelter, off Goodrich Road behind the Highway Department, held an open house Wednesday to show off what town officials say was a long overdue upgrade and expansion.

The once-tiny facility used to have only six dog runs and no restroom. It was expanded to about 3,000 square feet from 500 square feet, has added 10 dog runs and is handicapped-accessible.

The place is now big enough to hold as many as 32 dogs and 10 cats, said Jerome Schuler, the town's animal control officer. The shelter also has increased storage space and added restroom facilities and tiled floors that are easier to clean.

"This is presently state-of-the-art for any shelter around right now," Schuler said.

The ventilation system was upgraded, and a new heating system will dry the floors quickly in the winter, Schuler said.

Workers from the town's Highway and Parks departments handled the project, at a cost estimated at less than $200,000.

"It needed to be brought up to 2012 standards," said Town Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. And the town saved some money by having its own workers handle the job, he said.

While only three animals were in the shelter Wednesday, the population can go much higher, Schuler said. "Things can change here at a moment's notice."

About 100 dogs have come through the facility since January, he said, and the site has adopted out about 30 animals so far this year. A variety of other animals has passed through the shelter before, including parrots and ferrets.

Not all of the animals kept at the shelter come from Clarence. The town has fee-based agreements with the Town of Tonawanda and Amherst to hold animals picked up in those towns until they can be reunited with their owners or adopted out if unclaimed. Workers from the other towns deliver the animals to the Clarence shelter.