Fancy new digs set to open at state-of-the-art animal shelter in Bellevue

Seattle Humane plans to open the new shelter to replace its current Bellevue facility, built in the 1960s.

On mornings when pet surgeries are performed at the Seattle Humane clinic in Bellevue, a veterinarian and a vet technician crowd into an operating bay in a former janitor’s closet. Dogs and cats recover from surgery on heating pads in a hallway. Stressed-out dogs in narrow concrete and chain-link kennels bark and bark.

Life is about to get much better for the pets — and the staff and volunteers who care for them.

In about two weeks, the state’s oldest animal-welfare organization will move into a new, $30 million, three-story building constructed immediately behind its cramped, 1960s shelter off Eastgate Way.

The state-of-the art facility will combine an animal shelter, adoption center and a veterinary teaching hospital that will be run in partnership with Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

An open house for the public is expected to be held in December, after the current cinder-block building is demolished and a new parking lot and entryways finished.

“This is going to be so much better for the animals,” said Ken Farmer, chief financial officer for Seattle Humane. “We’ve done as much as we can with the facilities we have, but the new building will allow us to do so much more.”

Pet adoptions, as well as the number of animals rescued from high-kill shelters and the number of pets spayed or neutered each year, are all expected to significantly increase once the new building is fully operational, said Anna Gabriel, capital campaign director for the new building.

She said the shelter blew right past its fundraising goal of $25 million and is still raising money — more than $28 million to date — by sharing with the public the vision of a shelter that can rescue more animals and extend its reach to more of the state and beyond.

During the recent heat wave, Gabriel led a tour through both the old facility, where volunteers washed litter boxes and food bowls by hand and hosed down the dog runs to ease the heat, and the new building, with its light-filled adoption area, fully equipped animal hospital and a commercial dishwasher that will free up volunteers to spend more time with the pets.

A new room for a cat colony — cats who are socialized and can hang with other cats — is so spacious that one tour member quipped that it was as big as a New York apartment.

Seattle Humane began life as the Seattle…

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