Brand new Sherbrooke animal shelter gets cat condos, 'state-of-the-art' clinic

Private donations from animal lovers in the community helped to pay for the new site and its services, but it also receives funding from employees.

Volunteers got together over the weekend to help move more than 100 animals

This kitten, Phoebe, is up for adoption at the new and improved Eastern Townships Animal Protection Society in Sherbrooke. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

Inside Sherbrooke's new animal shelter, the cats and dogs have something many other caged animals do not: space to roam.

Their cages are larger than the standard required, with most separated into two compartments with a connecting door.

On one side, animals have a place to rest and eat, and on the other, a place to relieve themselves.

The Eastern Townships Animal Protection Society (SPA) calls this a cat condominium.

The new cages, or cat condos, have more space for the animals to move around in. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

Employees and volunteers spent the weekend moving 200 animals and equipment into the new state of the art facility, which opened officially today.

Geneviève Cloutier, who runs public relations for the shelter, told CBC News the shelter took extra measures to make the move go as smoothly as possible for the animals.

It put around half of all the cats into temporary foster homes in the community in order to lighten the load, she explained.

Then, each of the 80 or so cats was moved one at a time, to keep their stress levels low.

​Genevieve Cloutier said each of the cats was moved into the new facility one at a time. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

"We have a lot of volunteers who are helping us today in order to move all the cats," said Cloutier. "We are not putting all the cats in a big van in order to move them. It's one by one."

Cloutier said that around 80 per cent of all the animals the shelter receives in a year are cats.

Shelter more than doubles in size

After eight years of planning, the shelter has now been set up in the former Bell building on Sauvé Street.

The entrance now leads to a store and an adoption area, and the space is a bit more than double the size of the previous shelter.

The new shelter includes a brand new clinic space for the animals. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

Dr. Lois Saucke, co-owner of the veterinarian clinic attached to the shelter, has been working in partnership with the shelter for more than 15 years.

She helped design the new space and said she's particularly happy about the new surgery room, which now has two operating tables.

"In our old clinic, our surgery room was about a third of the size and our surgery lamp was actually an old dentist's lamp," she said. "It really is state-of-the-art."

Saucke explained that in the old shelter, cats were "sandwiched between adoption dogs and stray dogs," which made for a lot of noise.

The new system keeps the cats and dogs at arms-length.

Dr. Lois Saucke is the co-owner of the veterinarian clinic attached to the shelter. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

Private donations from animal lovers in the community helped pay for the new site and its services, but it also receives funding from employees like Saucke.

She said she gives a percentage of her paycheck to the community fund, which has reached just over $750,000.

The goal is to get $100,000 in private donations, and the shelter plans to keep fundraising until that goal is met.

With files from CBC's Rebecca Martel