By Susan Vela
BELVIDERE — Stray, injured, abused or abandoned animals will find cushier quarters Monday when Boone County’s $1 million Animal Services building officially opens.
The 3,200-square-foot facility near the intersection of Squaw Prairie Road and McKinley Avenue has been years in the making.
More than 50 community members, along with some of their furry friends, stood outside the new facility today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Voters approved a November 2014 referendum to raise about $800,000 through a property tax to help pay for construction. A $5 add-on fee for dog tags is helping pay for the difference.
“I look around and see so many people contributed and put forth the effort here,” Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg said. “We just want to thank everybody for the support and the effort. Obviously, it certainly turned out nice. This is a wonderful new building.”
The kennels have barriers to prevent canine rowdiness. The building has a consultation room, a receiving area for animals, an activity room and other amenities.
“It will be easier on me now that I don’t have to fix everything,” said Justin Unger, animal services officer. “It’ll be a much cozier home for the dogs.”
Boone County officials had hoped for an August opening. Unger said some electrical issues caused delays.
But now the community can say goodbye to the Appleton Road facility that has less than 1,500 square feet and is more than 60 years old. The county purchased the veterinary clinic in 2003.
Dogs were spending some nights among piles and pools of their own waste on cold, snowy nights when outdoor stall gates had to be closed. Indoor stalls didn’t have drainage systems.
“It needed to be torn down 20 years ago,” Belvidere resident Al Johnson said.
He donated some fencing for the Animal Services property.
“I’d just like to give back to the community,” he said.