DAYTONA BEACH — Nothing was going to put a damper on the grand opening of the renovated and expanded Halifax Humane Society property late Saturday morning.
That included a massive thunderstorm that rolled through the area — but held off until the dedication of the new building was over and most of the 400 people attending had made their way into the new Lohman Adoption Center, where people toured the new facilities for dogs, cats and even a rooster looking for a new home.
“Today, we celebrate a glorious day not only for our animals, but for our community,” said Halifax Humane Society CEO Miguel Abi-hassan. “Is it bigger? Yes it is. But most importantly, it’s better.”
The renovation and expansion cost $3.6 million to complete. That included $1.6 million in donations from Lowell and Nancy Lohman. Nancy Lohman also spearheaded a fundraising effort that eventually included donations from hundreds of citizens.
The result is a three-story glass atrium that shined light onto gray tile floors and the light blue walls with dark blue and green accents. The new facility includes separate areas where people can view small dogs and cats up for adoption; another area for larger dogs; still another area for other “critters;” “meet-your-match” cabanas for people to get to know the animal they seek to adopt; and a retail shop with various fun items for pets and their human companions.
“The final result is unbelievable. Even the people who have worked here during the renovations are in awe,” said Barry KuKes, community outreach director for the Halifax Humane Society. “It was long overdue.”
Nancy Lohman pointed out to those attending that not long ago the facility on the northwest corner of Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard had little “curb appeal.” The building was old and looked it. Not anymore.
“This Halifax Humane Society reflects the quality of life we expect in this area,” she said. Now, when people see the facility with a new border fence and palm trees out front, they’ll think, “That looks like a happy place, and I’m going inside.”
The main building is also the final phase of a three-part renovation and expansion that included the Lee C. and Patricia Culler Boarding, Grooming and Travel Center which opened in September 2017, and a 3-acre dog park that opened in June 2016 and received a Volusia County EHCO grant. Nancy Lohman said the overall campus may include more services for pets that any other place in the country.
The builders, Coleman Goodemote Construction, took extra steps to make the facility more friendly for animals, people and the environment.
“We used innovative and really healthy products and supplies that make the environment as healthy as possible for our animals,” Nancy Lohman said. “We used antibacterial tiles, paint and innovative ideas in the ‘meet-your-match’ rooms.”
The four cabanas were added to give animals and potential adopters a better chance of getting acquainted.
“Cats pick people and we weren't able to let them out of their cages before to let them do that,” KuKes said. “Now we have quiet rooms outfitted with chairs, cat trees and shelves to give them a better chance.”
The Halifax Humane Society has been around since 1937 and has helped an estimated 500,000 animals since then. The facility also has taken in animals no matter their condition. In December, the organization announced their goal of being essentially “no kill” by 2020 and has made significant strides since 2012, going from a 50 percent save rate to a 84 percent save rate. To reach “no kill” status, the humane society will need to reach a save rate of 90 percent. The new facility should make that goal easier to attain.
KuKes said the expansion and new amenities give the animals a better chance of adoption, which in turn will increase the save rate.
“People feel better about coming here,” KuKes said. “The whole idea for this transformation is to make it people friendly. All in all, it helps the animals.”
Randy Dye, current chairman of the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce and owner of Daytona Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram & Fiat, said just before the ribbon-cutting and the rain that the new Halifax Humane Society shows the importance of animals to the greater community.
“We’ve all heard it takes a village,” Dye said. “I would suggest to you that this village has to include pets.”
At the grand opening event HHS had 17 adoptions (including a rooster shown below) and 16 holds on animals for adoptions.
Thank you to all of the people who braved the thunderstorms to come to the new facility. It was a great day!