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New Guelph Humane Society HQ construction on hold due to coronavirus

The agency has been named an essential service and its work in the community continues
20200415 Guelph Humane Society KA
Construction has halted at the partially-competed new headquarters for the Guelph Humane Society. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

Guelph Humane Society is continuing its mission in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but construction of its new headquarters is currently on hold. 

Deemed an essential service by the provincial government, Guelph Humane Society (GHS) continues to rescue vulnerable animals and is helping families affected by COVID-19 by temporarily boarding pets in some emergency situations.

The province’s decision to name humane societies as essential services is positive because the agency is seeing a continued need in the community for its services, said Adrienne McBride, GHS executive director.

“For us that was a big recognition from the province that the animals in our community are still going to need us, regardless of what is happening with COVID-19 in our community,” said McBride. “Our officers are still on the road, we have them suited up with (personal protective equipment) gear to make sure they stay safe, but they are still out on the road responding to animal emergencies.”

Back at its current headquarters on Wellington Street, many administrative staff have been asked to work from home and about 70 per cent of the animals in GHS care are currently off-site in foster care.

“That helps us to reduce the number of people who need to be in the building caring for animals so we can maintain that physical distancing,” said McBride. “Our space is a small tight space and we have lots of staff who share offices.”

McBride said this is the time of year that GHS expects an increase in the number of cats that come into its care.

“It’s springtime, they are more active outdoors and we are going to start seeing kittens any time now,” she said.

On its web site, GHS recently featured a cat named Sunny that came into its care with a broken hip, which needed surgery.

“Vets can perform those urgent surgeries right now, which for us is a huge part of our need and we are happy to be continuing to work with our vet partners,” said McBride.

GHS has set up a special COVID-19 web page to keep people informed of its continuing efforts during the pandemic and is ready to help families affected by the pandemic..

The Pets in Transition program works in partnership with Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis and Community Veterinary Outreach to provide care for pets of women fleeing domestic violence and temporarily boarding pets in emergency situations such as owner hospitalizations.

Construction of GHS’s new headquarters on Hanlon Creek Boulevard has been on hold since Apr. 3 after the provincial government expanded workplace closures to include non-essential construction.

The building was to be completed by November 2020 but may now be delayed until the end of the year or even later, depending on when restrictions on construction are lifted and workers can complete the project.

Although unfinished, the new building is currently sealed and the site secured.

“We understand the decision, but of course are keen to see them back at work so we can get the project back on track,” said McBride. “We are tight on space and can’t wait to have a larger, more modern facility, but at the same time we want them to be safe and our community to be safe.”


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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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