Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Animal Ark Fills New Mountain Humane Campus
Carol Brown carries in a pup that was all shook up by the move, as Liz Yuengling looks on.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019


They borrowed a page from Noah. And Tuesday afternoon, more than three dozen volunteers turned out to walk 35 meowing cats and 24 curious dogs two by two from the old animal shelter into their new digs at the $16 million Mountain Humane animal welfare campus.

“This is an animal ark—from what was to what is to be,” Executive Director Jo-Anne Dixon told the volunteers. “I wish dogs could understand English so they could understand what they’re coming to.  Animals love us whether they’re living with us in a car or in a house, but to have a place that the community will want to come to and spend time at is so exciting.”

Shelter officials had planned the big move across Croy Creek Road last week but postponed it after heavy snows. They managed to pull this move off between a storm that dumped more than 30 inches on Sun Valley Resort and another poised to open the floodgates.

Lynn Campion takes a cat to its new home. “All it needs now is red curtains with pictures of catnip on them,” said the kitty.

“Can’t believe we got a teensy snow break!” said the shelter’s Associate Director Brooke Bonner, who’s getting ready for the facility’s grand opening and ribbon cutting set for President’s Day on Monday, Feb. 18.

Volunteers carried the cats into their Anderson Cat House in cages, releasing about three per room. Slowly each cat emerged from its cage, some more eager than others to explore carpet-covered tunnels and climbing apparatus.

“This one wants to explore. This one is perturbed,” said Claudia Kokke as she watched three felines check out their new homes.

Dogs came in on leash—some excited to be out and about, others shivering with fear as they were led to their new homes in the Top Dog Showroom.

Cats had plenty of nooks and crannies—even a hammock—to hang out in.

“Smile!” one volunteer told her dog as several paparazzi from the animal shelter and volunteers tried to record the event.

“Isn’t this exciting?!” said Renee Faltings. “I’m beside myself.”

Each canine was ushered into handsome kennels featuring cots covered with blankets and stuffed teddy bears, sharks and other toys donated by friends of the shelter.

 “Yay! You’re going into Bandit’s Bunkhouse!” said Rosemary Aquilante, who had sponsored that particular kennel with David McCarty and named it after a shepherd-husky she adopted from the shelter in 2003.

Rex’s new digs look out onto a courtyard currently under three feet of snow. There are still some naming opportunities available for some kennels.

“You’re in a good home—that’s Tippin’s Taj Mahal!” she shouted as a volunteer ushered a black lab named Tootsie into a second kennel she had sponsored.

Many of the kennels have been sponsored by people and named after their pets. Linda and Bill Potter, for instance, named one “Quig’s Quarters.” And Beverly and Michael DeChevrieux named theirs “Barney’s Bolthole” and “Paddy’s Pad.”


“This is amazing. I’m overjoyed. This still doesn’t feel real, even though they’re here,” said Aquilante. “Do you hear how quiet it is? It’s wonderful because they’ll be able to do so much more enrichment.”

Rex’s new digs came with a teddy bear and a doggie cot. “It’s paws-itively fabulous,” he said.

Each of the kennels features a warm spot on the floor to entice its residenst to sit up front where potential adopters can see them. Each contains its own drain to keep diseases from spreading. And each is ventilated to eliminate smells.

But even state-of-the-art technology couldn’t stop messes, staff and volunteers quickly learned.

 “First official cleaning!” someone shouted as the volunteers laughed.

Volunteers lined Bark Avenue as the last of the dogs was brought in.

“Look how happy they are in there—all wagging their tails,” said Kathy Boylston. “It’s been a long time coming.”

“The cats are enjoying climbing and exploring and you can’t keep the people out of their rooms,” added Dixon. “Those rooms just suck visitors in.”

Lynn Campion was among the volunteers leading animals to their new homes. She’ll be back today with a painting that friends bought from her artist-husband Ted Waddell to donate to the shelter. One of Waddell’s sculptures—of a giant dog--will also be placed in front of the campus, which was designed to resemble a barn in keeping with the rural flavor of the area.

There would have been more dogs to move, but a dozen were adopted this past week, said Leslie Krieger. “But we’re getting another 12 from Texas this week so they’ll be here in time for the grand opening.”

A little over an hour after they had started, each of the animals was in its new home.

Well, except for five-month-old Tootsie who had been uprooted from Tippin’s Taj Majal to be taken to yet another new home after volunteer Jan Main decided she just couldn’t do without him.

 “Yay!” the staff cheered, as they celebrated the first new adoption in the facility.

The dogs’ days will begin at 7 when staff begin cleaning kennels so they’ll be done by the time the public arrives. In between two feedings, the dogs will get to play in fenced play yards outside or take walks on paths around the 20-acre campus.

Occasionally, they may be taken to the indoor play room to undergo training or put on demonstrations.

That room boasts mondo flooring--a soft gym-like floor that’s easy on paws, easy to clean and noise dampening. A large picture of people enjoying their dogs in Croy Canyon taken by staff Bekka Mongeau doubles as a sound reduction panel.

A flat screen will give trainers the ability to video conference with adoptive families—30 percent of whom come from outside the valley.

“I don’t think the animals will want to leave here,” said Pam Feld as she explored the new facility.

“We have a place reserved for us,” quipped Campion.


Dixon sighed  as the big move came to an end.

“I knew this day would come, but there were days I wondered,” she said as watched the helpers toast the facility with sparkling cider and shortbread cookies shaped like Scottish terriers. “When I started working here 12 years ago, I knew we had outgrown the space that we were in. But when we were started looking for a space all we could find were places so far south we thought we’d never get a visitor. Now we have this amazing place for animals to be celebrated and it’s right in the heart of the valley.”

Dixon noted that she and her staff had visited a lot of shelters in Colorado and elsewhere, asking what worked and what didn’t. After listening to horror stories about drains that had to be pulled out because they spread disease, they decided one of the foremost things they needed to do was hire the right architect. They found it in Heather Lewis, who designs nothing but animal facilities.

“She knew what surfaces are optimal for scratching, chewing and disease control so we didn’t have to learn on our donors’ dollars,” she said. “Now, it’s time to reflect on the many people who were willing to suspend disbelief to make this happen.”


Mountain Humane is holding its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18. The facility is at 101 Croy Creek Road, three miles west of Hailey.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m., followed by a building tour at 11:15. A dog training demonstration will be held at noon and 3:30 p.m.

Building tours will then be held every half-hour between 12:15 and 3:15 p.m.

A scavenger hunt with prizes will be held throughout the day.

There’ll be coffee, hot chocolate and nibbles in Christie’s Cat Café throughout the day, as well as a chance for selfies with Mountain Humane mascots Bernard and Miss Kitty.

Then get ready for Yappy Hour at 4 p.m.—yup, they’re having beer, wine and music in the educational barn.


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