Humane Society

A cat named Mrs. Puff greets visitors in the lobby of the Central Dakota Humane Society shelter north of Mandan on Wednesday afternoon while volunteer coordinator Mandy Schaaf works in back. "Maybe if we have a new building I'll have somewhere to work besides the middle of our lobby," said Schaaf.

TOM STROMME/Tribune

With Burleigh County Commission approval of a sale of 8 acres of Missouri Valley Complex property this week, the Central Dakota Humane Society is free to move ahead on building plans for its future location. It also must decide what to do with the shelter north of Mandan it has owned for nearly 18 years.

County commissioners accepted the nonprofit's $133,000 offer to buy the property near Yegen Road on the fairgrounds, southeast of Bismarck. That is what the county spent on special assessments for water and utility improvements there. The county's original asking price was $235,000, said Burleigh County Auditor Kevin Glatt.

Sue Buchholz, shelter director for the Humane Society, said the group is at the very early stages of planning for its future site and deciding what will happen to its existing facility.

"We can't expand here or sustain what we have," she said of the Mandan location. Buchholz said the Burleigh County fairgrounds site is zoned correctly for animal shelters and is tied to the city sewer system. At the Mandan site, the drainage system is inadequate for growth, she said.

She said the group's goal is to be able to pay for the facility up-front and not be in debt. Estimated cost for the new building is $2 million. "We have no hard facts," Buchholz said. She expects the Humane Society will soon be looking to hire engineers and architects familiar with designing animal shelters.

Buchholz said the Humane Society will renew its capital campaign efforts. The nonprofit cannot simply sell its current property to help pay for the new building, she said.

"We need to keep this facility running to care for the animals we have. We're at capacity all of the time," she said. "We might sell it after."

Everything has to be decided by its board of directors.

"We were able to purchase that land and are super excited," she said. "We hope to double our capacity."

The rural Mandan site can house 90 cats and 50 dogs. Even with the larger operation planned, Buchholz said, the new site might be filled all of the time to meet the demand of animals without permanent homes.

She said the nonprofit adopts out an average of 30 animals per month. She estimates that the organization has 3,100 volunteers and supporters in the 100-mile radius who help fund the shelter, keep animals or supply it. Housing requests are coming as far away as Williston for animals given up or abandoned, Buchholz said.

Buchholz said there are many details to work through, like testing the fairgrounds property to ensure it can sustain the shelter's type of building, and design needs must be firmed up.

"This will be for the animals," she said. "The money goes for a comfortable place and allows enough room for the animals. We are a no-kill facility. We keep them until we find homes for them.

"We want to make this work and make it good," Buchholz said.

Reach reporter LeAnn Eckroth at 250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.

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