RIVER NORTH — Dogs and cats receiving medical care at the Anti-Cruelty Society will now get their shots and stitches in some swanky new digs.
The 114-year-old animal care facility finished its $3.6 million clinic renovation "on budget and right on schedule," said Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president of the Anti-Cruelty Society.
Building a new surgical center nearly double the size of the original facility is part one of a four-phase plan to update the four-building campus, whose oldest building — which housed the previous clinic — was erected in 1936.
The nine-month renovation "went very smoothly," Barbiers said. The whole clinic was relocated to the underground level of 169 W. Grand Ave., below the Mullane Auditorium, which hosts educational programming.
Facilities in the new clinic have expanded in every direction. The surgical suite has doubled, now holding five to six operating tables where there were previously four. Dental services have doubled, as has the capacity for hosting visiting veterinary students and the size of the clinic's four exam rooms.
Most significant, according to Barbiers, is the addition of a 327-square-foot isolation unit with separate rooms for contagious cats and dogs.
"In the old clinic, we would put cats with upper respiratory [illnesses] in with dogs, because they can't cross contaminate, but it was stressful for the cats," Barbiers said. "Now we have separate rooms for different animals, and it's a lot farther away from the rest of the population. We made it a dead end, and a true isolation area, to make sure we don't have any cross-contamination."
Phase two will tackle one of Barbier's biggest concerns by relocating the receiving area, where pet owners surrender their animals.
"It's hard when people come in right now. Both adopters and surrenders come in the same entrance, so you've got people all, 'Oh, let's go get a pet! I'm really happy!" and then you've got people crying with their 15-year-old German shepherd that needs to be euthanized," she said. "Or, 'I have to give up my pet because of life circumstance,' and we really would like to separate those areas."
The next phase of construction is expected to kick off in early 2014, Barbiers said. In total, the renovations will cost the not-for-profit $8 million, $1 million more than their annual operating budget, which is comprised almost entirely of donations.