Maryland SPCA unveils $2.1 million renovation

Shelter expansion means more comfort for homeless dogs and cats

  • The renovation not only features new cat condos and dog kennels for all of the animals, but a chance for the more social ones to live together in group housing the shelter calls “apartments.”
The renovation not only features new cat condos and dog kennels… (Handout photo )
February 24, 2011|By Jill Rosen, The Baltimore Sun

Minutes after Simon was introduced to his new feline pied-a-terre Thursday morning, the tabby lazed in kitty bliss, perhaps aware he was enjoying more space and finer quarters than any of the thousands of cats that have passed through the Maryland SPCA.

With a $2.1 million renovation unveiled Thursday, the Baltimore shelter's most significant update since it was built in the 1970s, Simon and the rest of the homeless animals are not only more comfortable — shelter officials believe they have a better chance of finding homes.

Though the shelter now has clean and bright office space and exam rooms, the public will notice the roomier dog and cat housing as well as new, now separate areas for people adopting pets and those who are leaving animals behind.

No longer are any animals kept in cages with bars, which visitors considered jail-like and depressing, says Aileen Gabbey, the shelter's executive director. The renovation not only brought new cat condos and dog kennels for all of the animals, but a chance for the more social ones to live together in group housing the shelter calls "apartments."

The cat apartments are roughly the size of a walk-in closet, with windows for the cats to observe the world and pillowed perches where they can climb and nap.

"The environment is more welcoming," says the shelter's behaviorist, Nichole Miller. "People will stay longer, and the longer they stay, the better matches we can make. Ultimately we'll have more adoptions and better adoptions."

The project took eight months to complete — and at times during constructions, animals had to be kept in trailers or off-site. The bulk of the money came from donations, the largest from Arlene Gorn in memory of her husband, Morton, a real estate developer who loved horses and dogs, particularly his constant companion, Wally the collie.

In Gorn's honor, the center is now named the Morton Gorn Center for Animal Adoption.

People will be able to tour the expanded Maryland SPCA, at 3300 Falls Road, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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