After a decade of planning, animals can now roam freely inside the Regina Humane Society's new Animal Community Centre.
The new $28-million building in Harbour Landing opens to the public Tuesday and its open-concept space houses animals, veterinarian spaces and has the ability to host community events.
"This has been an incredible week, a lifetime effort for myself but for our teams this is really a dream come true to move from our old 60-year-old facility to this amazing Animal Community Centre," said Lisa Koch, the humane society's executive director.
"Arriving here with our animals for the very first time, there were a lot of tears."
The vet clinic in the new space has human hospital-grade biosecurity, which the humane society says will help them save more animals.
Improvements over the old building
The building has two times the space as the previous building, but is expected to house around the same amount of animals.
"We have not increased the volume tremendously for the number of animals that we can house because warehousing animals is not best practice," Koch said. "It's to keep them here for as short a period of time as possible."
The main lobby inside the new Regina Humane Society's Animal Community Centre in Harbour Landing has an open concept. (Halyna Mihalik/CBC)
The space is also much safer for the animals, and she explained the new space has healthier ventilation systems, odour control and quieter acoustics.
This was made in an effort to reduce stress for pets and staff while making it a more inviting space for the public.
"It's like a game changer for animal welfare, we're able to keep our animals healthier," Koch said.
The addition of a classroom space in the Animal Community Centre was created as a way to connect animals and education in Regina. The room can be booked by schools for field trips or by any local organization that wants an event in the space.
Educational plaques with facts on the evolution of animals and responsible pet care hang from the walls for people to look at as they peruse through the building.
"It's a tremendous opportunity to send people on a society safari, on a hunt for clues, to learn more about animals and how we engage with them," Koch said.
Fresh, new chapter
Most of the funds for the new facility came from community donors. Different areas and rooms in the building are named in tribute to some of the donors.
For the humane society, the new building isn't only a fresh start for the animals, but for the staff and visitors, too.
"It was obviously built for the animals, but it was also built for people — our staff. It gives them more space to work, to work with better equipment, to do the job that they're doing," said Bill Thorn, the director of marketing and public relations for the humane society.
"It always seemed to feel sad, even though good things were happening in the old building. This place is very bright, very happy and we hope that everyone will feel that way when they're here."
The inside of the previous home of the Regina Humane Society on Armour Road. (Halyna Mihalik/CBC)
The humane society's former home on Armour Road was technically not within city limits, which made accessibility difficult, Thorn said.
The humane society hopes the new location, which is accessible by transit, will attract more people and more forever homes for Regina's furry friends.