Saranac Lake animal shelter nets $500K grant for needed upgrades

Daisy, the dog, gobbles up cookies fed to her by Caitlin Will, right, while Joyce Barber holds the leash at the Tri-Lakes Humane Society on Friday. Daisy was reported abandoned in Paul Smiths around a year ago when a fisherman called the shelter and said he was feeding her donuts until they could wrangle her. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

SARANAC LAKE — The Tri-Lakes Humane Society has been awarded a $500,000 state grant to make “vital” upgrades to the animal shelter, allowing it to stay open by meeting compliance with a new law that will take effect next year, and giving its animals a better home as they wait for adoption.

Shelter Director Victoria Tanner said they are “incredibly thankful” for the grant.

“Without this, we would not be able to meet the demands and we would not be able to be a functioning shelter,” she said.

“However, it’s important to recognize that our work is ongoing, and we rely on the continued support of our community to fulfill our mission,” Tanner added in a statement. “This work would not be possible without the unwavering support of the local community.”

Tanner said the Companion Animal Standards Care Act carries a lot of new requirements many shelters will need to upgrade to meet before it takes effect in December 2025.

Tom Selleck, the dog, peers out over the grass at the Tri-Lakes Humane Society on Friday. His owner died recently and he and his siblings are looking for a new home. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Shelter Manager Lena Bombard said the main change will be a 30-foot-long addition on the back of the building, a former restaurant. The extra space is needed because there are new requirements in the law on the spacing of kennels and where dangerous, sick or stray dogs should be quarantined.

This expansion will also allow them to increase their numbers, Tanner said, adding that there is “absolutely” a need for more animal housing in the region.

Other planned upgrades include new plumbing, sound dampening, flooring, gutters, air exchanges systems, siding and kennels. Bombard said they hope to start construction early next year.

Bombard said people are asking her “What are you doing for the cats?” They’re also renovating two of the cat rooms.

The shelter is matching 10% of the grant, putting in $50,000.

Jen Linley perches on a scratching post at the Tri-Lakes Humane Society on Friday. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

“This will only help us with so much. There is still lots that needs to be changed for us meet the code,” Tanner said in a statement.

She said donations to the shelter can be made at trilakeshumanesociety.org.

The Tri-Lakes Humane Society does dog control for six towns in the area. It also contracts to take stray dogs from towns that have their own dog control officers across four counties. It is the only full-time adoption shelter in the area with a full-time staff. It also houses dogs that have bitten people in kennels other local places don’t have.

Bombard said they have around 300 animals come through their doors in a year.

“It’s gone down. When I was first hired (in 2010), we had over 600 animals a year,” Bombard said. “Spay/neuter has made a big difference.”

She said it has cut the local population of unplanned litters in half. The humane society has a financial aid voucher program for people to afford getting their animals fixed at veterinarians.

Still, they rescue abandoned pets around once a month.

Last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the nearly $3.8 million in grants to 10 animal care organizations through the New York State Companion Animal Capital Fund, which is administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.


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