The Humane Animal Rescue on Western Avenue in the Northside is undergoing renovations that will provide a more stress-free environment for the animals housed there.

By Sophia Mastroianni

Calypso, a 12-year-old long-haired cat, confidently meows, craving attention and a few pets from Joyce Hegedus, a cat volunteer at the Northside Humane Animal
Rescue.

“I know that a lot of people want kittens, but I always feel bad for these ones because they need a home too,” Hegedus said, stroking the elderly cat.

Joyce Hegedus has been traveling from her home in Whitehall to the Humane Animal Rescue in the Northside for a little over a year now, or long enough to see that the facility’s new renovations have a positive effect in the building.

Following the merger between the Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League last year, The Buhl Foundation donated $20,000 on Jan. 20 for renovations to the Northside facility, according to Dan Rossi, the chief executive officer at the shelter.

“As we merged, we started looking at this facility in this building and unfortunately it was somewhat neglected over the past few years,” said Rossi.

Rossi is confident that the renovations will have a positive impact on the shelter’s aesthetic. Renovations include an updated front desk station with new computers, a volunteer check-in area, a private office for the volunteer coordinator, new HVAC equipment and a fresh coat of paint.

Rossi said priorities with the renovations include making sure the animals have a stress-free environment, ensuring a nice space for the volunteers, better working environments for the employees and offering a proper experience for customers.

“When people come in to adopt, they [now] have the right space to be greeted,” Rossi said. “As we merged, we wanted to bring the same branding, look and feel [to] the organization. The front desk mimics the front desk we have at the East End.”

Debbie Pifko, a front desk volunteer, said the updated desk area is an improvement from what she was used to over the past two years.

“We [were] using a display case as a countertop,” Pifko said, referring to the shorter, more cumbersome layout of the entrance before the renovations.

Not only are the volunteers already experiencing a positive change in dynamic, but the shelter’s bunnies are too: their enclosure was moved to a warmer, quieter and more peaceful location than their previous one, which was directly in front of the welcome desk.

“[The bunnies] will be better cared for, secured and [will have] a better heating and air conditioning environment,” Rossi said.

According to Rossi, completed renovations are expected by the end of December.

For more information and hours of operation, go to www.humaneanimalrescue.org.