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Humane Society going ahead with new facility

8 years after fire, Jacksonville Humane Society ready to rebuild

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Humane Society is still working to get a new facility after a fire ripped through its buildings eight years ago.

The organization hasn't had the money to rebuild, but demolition for the new facility will start soon.

The fire in 2007 destroyed the main shelter building, damaged veterinary equipment and killed several shelter animals.

The shelter is still operating from temporary buildings eight years later.

"The temporary facilities that we've been in since 2007 are literally falling apart around us,” said Denise Deisler, JHS executive director. “The need is urgent and we can't wait any longer."

Deisler said JHS quit pouring money into repairs and started pushing forward with plans for the new facility.

"It pains us every year to see our dogs in cold conditions in the middle of winter,” she said. “There have been times we had to evacuate the dogs. In the peak of summer, our dogs are hot and tired, and they can't get any relief."

On top of day-to-day expenses, the shelter has to raise money for a new $15 million facility. All the animals will be housed indoors in a climate-controlled building connected to the current JHS animal hospital.

JHS currently has more than $8 million to put toward construction, but officials are moving forward with parts of the project soon.

"We're pinching ourselves every day,” Deisler said. “Every new decision with the design, every step forward, we're getting giddy with excitement to finally see it happening."

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They're still working on some of the exterior designs, but the floor plan for the new complex is set. 

"The good news is that the construction company and architects worked closely with us so that we can operate the animal adoptions on site in our same buildings throughout construction,” Deisler said.

Through all of its challenges, JHS continues to be a no-kill shelter, finding forever homes for thousands of their furry friends every year.

"Despite the lack of physical facilities, our commitment to no-kill is unwavering, and we were not going to let the lack of facilities get in our way of saving animals' lives,” Deisler said. “It's a passion and commitment for us, and we're serious about it."

Demolition will begin in a couple of weeks and construction workers are expected to break ground on the new 40,000-square-foot facility in April of 2016. 

The Jacksonville Humane Society is participating in the Mega Pet Adoption this weekend. It will take place at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday. The Jacksonville Humane Society will also be open this weekend during the event. For more information, go to www.fcnmhp.org.