Home New animal shelter designs shared with owners’ group, public invited to offer comment

New animal shelter designs shared with owners’ group, public invited to offer comment

SVASC shenandoah valley animal services center proposed entrance
Design concept of new entrance to Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center in Verona

An architectural firm recently presented its design concepts for the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center’s new location planned at the former Verona Elementary School in Augusta County.

Representatives from Lineage Architects in Verona presented the design concept at an owners’ meeting May 23.

“Everyone at the shelter is very excited about the new shelter,” said Jon Hilbert, the director of the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center, currently located in Lyndhurst. “We are severely limited with space at the current shelter and are looking forward to a model shelter for our community.”

The move will bring the center closer to the Augusta County Government Center, and the goal is that the former school will provide enough space for the shelter now and in the future. The Lyndhurst location does not have adequate space for staff, according to Tim Fitzgerald, Augusta County Administrator.

The renovations to the former school will likely cost $3 million and will be split between three municipalities – Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County – based on percentage usage.

Some community members are opposed to the move due to capacity remaining nearly the same at the new facility. The SVASC board responded to the criticism in March saying the square footage of the shelter will increase from 5,000 to 39,000 square feet “to provide additional capacity in the future.”

Augusta County has posted the designs presented by Lineage Architects to its website, and they have created a survey for community members to offer confidential comments on the concept.

The presentation to the owners’ group showed there is room for capacity to increase over time as funding and staff supports the growth.

Capacity at the shelter

  • The current shelter allows for 240 dogs per year at the facility. According to estimates by Lineage, the new shelter over time will allow for 728 dogs per year.
  • The current shelter can accommodate approximately 144 cats while the new shelter over time could house 792 cats per year.
  • At standard capacity, at any one time, the new facility will allow for 112 cats (up to 215 in emergencies) and 103 dogs (up to 174 in emergencies).
  • The initial capacity numbers will be the same for cats but will be lower for dogs at 55 dogs (standard capacity) and up to 94 dogs (in emergencies).

New shelter design

  • Individual buildings to allow for separation of cats and dogs
  • Mature trees on site provide shade for outdoor areas
  • Existing walking trails, grass areas and paved areas for animal exercise
  • Separate areas for farm animal rescue
  • Visibility and easy access will encourage visits by adopters and volunteers

Strategies to reduce animal stress

  • Separate buildings for cats and dogs
  • Walls and ceiling construction designed to reduce noise
  • Fear-free interior design promotes calming colors
  • Increased air flow reduces disease transmission
  • Dimmable lighting in animal areas to provide calming effect

Admin pod proposed features

Another advantage to the new facility will be the administrative areas the new space will offer.

  • Welcoming lobby area
  • Real life rooms for constant contact with animals
  • Large training room to hold vaccine clinics, training and community events
  • Dedicated area for volunteers
  • Separate intake entrance to reduce disease
  • Dedicated medical exam and grooming rooms
  • Ample support and storage rooms

The cat pod will include community rooms, free roam areas, cat patios as well as separate kitten and small animal rooms.

The dog pod will include oversized runs, indoor and outdoor runs, visitation rooms and outdoor play yards.

“SVASC is looking forward to a future home that is designed for positive interaction between adopters, volunteers and the animals in our care,” said Hilbert. “Thoughtful and impactful design features will help reduce stress on and promote the well-being of the animals.”

Augusta County became the fiscal agent for the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center in July 2022, replacing the City of Waynesboro.

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors approved the funding request to move the center to Verona in January.

The project will likely go out to bid later this year.

Construction should be completed in the fall of 2024.

Critics question Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center move, citing costs, capacity

Municipal animal shelter to move to Verona Elementary School in 2024

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.