SEBRING - For years, the Humane Society of Highlands County has been faced with making stop-gap repairs to kennels at the society's shelter.
"They're falling apart," Society President Judy Spiegel said of the kennels, some of which were built in the 1960s. "They're old. They're been repaired over and over."
Because of the situation, work should begin early this spring on new and larger homes for the dogs that live at the shelter.
Jon Spiegel, Judy Spiegel's husband, who has been working on the building preparation side of the project, said the kennels will be larger and more efficient. The increase in the size will depend on the various existing kennels, as many were added on over the years and built with different materials, he said.
The emphasis is to make the kennels easier to clean and efficient, as opposed to making them more attractive, Jon Spiegel said.
"These will be no-frills buildings," he said.
Spiegel said one difference is that the kennels will be made with welded wire as opposed to chain-linked fence, the material used for existing kennels.
Dogs have chewed through the chain-linked fence, he said.
Another problem, he said, is that water and bleach over the years had eroded the metal.
One new feature that may help to reduce that is the kennels will have industrial-grade ceiling fans, Jon Spiegel said. Those fans will not only help during the hot summer, but also will speed up drying of the kennels.
Epoxy will be placed on the cement floors, which will reduce the amount of water that seeps into the cement, he said.
Those improvements should reduce the damage from the bleach and reduce the amount of time the staff spends cleaning the kennels, giving the staff members more time to spend with the animals, Jon Spiegel said.
The kennels will have more insulation and galvanized aluminum roofs that will reflect heat, he said.
Judy Spiegel said the new kennels will be constructed in a new location and the old ones will be removed once the new ones are completed.
Currently, the shelter can house up to 70 dogs, depending on the number of puppies.
The new kennels will have room for close to 80 dogs, she said.
Judy Spiegel said that while a need exists for more kennels, the emphasis is on providing quality care to the animals.
The Humane Society could take in many more dogs, but the staff isn't large enough for that, she said.
"We could build a thousand kennels and fill them tomorrow," she said.
The Humane Society is still looking for some sponsorships to help with some costs, such as $16,000 for a new septic system, Judy Spiegel said. Anyone interested in being sponsors can call her at (863) 214-6508.