After 100 years of service, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, located on N Armenia Ave. has recently upgraded to a larger facility where they will be able to better attend to animals and families looking to adopt.
“It almost feels unreal, honestly,” said Maria Matlack, marketing and public relations manager with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “I still can’t believe that we’re in such an amazing building. Personally, I really value the work we do here. It’s just heartwarming everyday to see a lot of these animals come in not the best shape and then we receive pictures and updates of how they are living their best lives now and they’re super spoiled.”
The decision to build a new shelter came after problems arose within the old facility. Matlack stated that they were hurting for space and the Humane Society could only do so many renovations to the shelter before needing a new building.
“The facility was a bit crowded, but the animals had enough space to do what they needed to, but it definitely needed to be updated,” said Luisa Fernanda, a shelter volunteer. “I’m very glad they did.”
By way of donations and individual fundraising, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay was able to raise $17,182,000 to put toward the construction and development of the new shelter.
“It took us a little over five years to plan everything, fundraise, and get everything built,” said Matlack. “The building portion itself took about two years to complete.”
The new facility provides the Humane Society of Tampa Bay with various features that the old building did not contain. Some of the new features include an isolation area for sick animals, puppy and kitten nurseries, indoor and outdoor spaces for cats, and large dog play yards.
“The old building didn’t have climate control,” said Matlack. “We had animals outside, our air condition would break all the time, and it would flood. It was just a hot mess.”
According to Matlack, the pandemic and the grand opening of the new shelter have caused the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to see an increase in the number of adoptions they receive per week and positive feedback on the updated building.
“Before COVID-19, we had a little over 200 adoptions per week,” said Matlack. “We are now seeing around 300 adoptions each week, and the new facility has provided us the space to process more adoptions.”
Rihannon Jones, sophomore undeclared major at The University of Tampa adopted a mixed breed from the shelter on Saturday, Oct. 3.
“The adoption process was very easy and the staff was very welcoming,” said Jones. “From what I saw, the facility was very neat and tidy. They also had a huge play area for the dogs and lots of toys and enrichments for dogs to play.”
In addition to being able to take care of more animals. Matlack hopes that the new building will allow for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to expand their humane education programs which are available for children.
“Not only are we trying to make a difference in the community with helping these animals, but we’re also trying to educate our future generations on how to treat animals,” said Matlack. “If they are interested in animal welfare spaces, or they are interested in becoming a vet, we want to help them follow their passion and get more involved with animals.
The Humane Society currently offers a variety of summer camps, programs for girl scouts, and programs for kids who have days off from school. For more information about these programs and the adoption process visit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay online.