Let Construction Begin!

This past Sunday at 2pm, WAIF celebrated the groundbreaking for construction of the new shelter in Coupeville. The event was well attended, the weather sunny, even a bit warm as participants gathered at the new shelter site. Ten golden shovels were prepared, along with ten hard hats, representing the hard work that has been done over many years to see this through to reality. Representatives from major donors, key volunteers (including past board members) that kept the dream alive over the years, as well as the current building committee, all donned a hat and shovel, and struggled a bit to get the blade through the hard, gravelly dirt. Everything about this event went smoothly and according to plan. Even better than planned, as a major donor stepped up and gave a $65,000 check that very day.

Becoming WAIF’s executive director in November, I missed the hard part. The years of trying, pushing, of working to get the dream of a new and permanent shelter off the ground, is part of other individuals’ memories. As WAIF Board President Bob Rupp pointed out in his remarks that day, “They kept the torch burning.” My hope is that all of the angst, the tears, the worry, the stress that attended all the years of working toward this goal has been softened at achieving this decisive mark of action. According to our general contractor (P&L Construction), we may be able to move into the new shelter in as few as twelve months! If so, we will be able to celebrate our 25th year of service to Whidbey Island in our new home.

As stated on that day, I do not believe anyone, including myself, knows fully what this new shelter will mean for Whidbey Island in the future. I do know stress levels of both animal and human will go down in some ways. Dogs will no longer have to be the “Alpha Dog” 24/7 because they will no longer have to stare at other dogs three feet away. And with six acres of dog walking trails, and an exercise yard, dogs will be well cared for. Cats will have free roaming space, allowing them perch time near windows, and play time with volunteers. All, both animal and human, will breathe fresh air, without hint of methane (a feature of the current shelter next to a buried dump). WAIF’s new shelter will become a destination spot on the island, increasing traffic to the shelter, thus increasing adoptions for cats and dogs! Much is yet to be done, but with the beginning of construction, we can at least pause, take a deep breath, and say well done, donors! Well done, volunteers! Well done, staff! The cats and dogs applaud you!

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