Kent Animal Shelter will hit an important milestone this year, as it marks 50 years of rescuing homeless animals — and it hopes to celebrate with a new building.
A longtime goal for the shelter has been to construct a new kennel to provide better space for rescued dogs, and fundraising efforts to that end have been in progress for several years.
Executive director Pamela Green confirmed that Kent is in contract to purchase a few acres of land for that purpose, but could not yet confirm the exact location. Only the kennel will move, she said; the clinic and cattery will remain on Kent’s current site in Calverton.
“What we need the most here is a new kennel,” Ms. Green said. “It’s the original 1968 building and its an old cinder block building, which is not efficient or a nice environment for the dogs or people visiting.”
Plans for the new facility include state-of-the-art drainage, soundproofing and ventilation. The current kennel facility would be torn down and the area would revert to its natural state with no development, according to Ms. Green.
Kent Animal Shelter was not able to expand on its own property because it would stretch into the Pine Barrens. In January 2016, Kent was seeking a waiver from the Pine Barrens Commission to allow construction, but even if the waiver were granted, Kent was still getting backlash from the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, which is not connected to the commission.
The original owners broke ground on the kennel in 1968. The clinic was built in 1974.
“Basically the mission is the same as it was in 1968,” Ms. Green said. “To serve as a haven for homeless animals and provide food, shelter, medical care, spays and neuters and everything else they need on their way to a permanent home.”
Kent Animal Shelter typically holds around 100 animals at any given time and handles 700 to 750 adoptions a year, according to Ms. Green.
She has served as executive director since 1985 and has seen vast changes and growth over the years.
“Just in volume and outreach for rescues [it] has grown,” she said. “Back then, it was a pretty small operation and when I came here they had been suffering from some financial difficulties and the clinic was closed, with just a few people on staff and a few animals.”
With the help of grants from the ASPCA, PetSmart Charities and Pet Peeves Inc, a Long Island pet charity, the spay and neuter clinics are able to provide low-cost procedures for pet owners.
“We just started to build it up after that, open up the clinic again and reach out to more shelters,” she said. “The spay/neuter really took off again.”
Now, the clinic performs about 4,000 spays and neuters annually. Kent takes in animals from high-kill shelters, often after tragedies like the floods in Texas or the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
“There is no shortage of homeless or abandoned animals, so that’s really what we’re here for,” Ms. Green said.
Kent will have fundraisers and events throughout the year. On May 4, it will host a comedy night at 7 p.m. at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead and in September it will hold its annual dog walk through Baiting Hollow Vineyard. Ms. Green said she also hopes to have an event sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate the shelter’s 50th anniversary.
The contract for the land purchase is pending and is contingent on permits from the Town of Riverhead.
“So that’s what we’re hoping for this year,” Ms. Green said. “It would be really cool to come to agreements on all sides this year.”
Photo caption: Pamela Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton, with Andre, a dog currently available for adoption at the no-kill facility. (Credit: Rachel Siford)