The Town of North Hempstead on Tuesday approved the North Shore Animal League America’s proposal for a one-story addition to its Port Washington facility.
The expansion includes is a cage-free adoption center for cats, allowing them to roam around and be in a more natural environment.
“When cats are in a natural environment, they are much less stressed, which makes it a lot easier for them to get adopted,” said Joanne Yohannan, senior vice president, operations. “They are much more social that way. Right now a vast majority of pets are in cages.”
The second-floor expansion will also include 12 rooms that can hold about eight cats each and allow the lower level to be used only for dogs.
“One other benefit once all the cats go upstairs is we can expand the lower level for the use of dogs and puppies,” Yohannan said.
Animal league officials said the league does not intend to increase the number of animals after the expansion.
The town approved the proposal under six conditions, which include replacing damaged trees, limiting exterior lighting to only hours of operation, getting approval from the public works department for stormwater overflow from the property to the street and closing the building to the public during construction when the parking lot is being used as a staging area.
The town also limited the construction hours from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays with no lane closures on South Bayles Avenue until after 8:30 a.m..
Once the structure is fully enclosed, the hours will be adjusted to 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on weekdays and on Saturday.
The expansion will also include a state-of-the-art surgical suite with two surgical tables for spaying and neutering cats.
“Having a full-service medical center gives us the wonderful ability to take animals there when they are rescued,” Yuhannan said.
The construction will likely take 9 to 12 months, Yohannan said.
“We would love to be able to start immediately,” she said.
The animal league’s adoption center will remain open during construction, but will operate out of a side building on the league’s campus.
The animal league will continue to offer medical services throughout the construction period.
Yohannan said the construction equipment needed for the expansion will be stored within the league’s boundaries.
Yohannan said approximately 120 cats and kittens are adopted out each month, with more in the spring time when cats are giving birth.
The facility in Port Washington is the animal league’s headquarters and hosts many of its adopting events.
It also has a pet health center, which offers veterinary care, a pet adoption center and dog training services.
The North Shore Animal League is the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world, according to its website.
It began operating in Port Washington in 1953 when the then North Shore Animal League and Dog Protective Association purchased two lots and a house.