This story was updated with renovation cost information on 8/19/10 at 1:51 p.m.
COLUMBIA — Ernie has captured Greta’s heart.
“Look at how cute he is,” the 8-year-old girl said Wednesday while gazing through the glass at a three-month-old tan Collie mix at the newly renovated Central Missouri Humane Society.
Her 6-year-old brother, Toby, liked Marley, a 2-year-old yellow lab better.
“We’re just investigating and looking,” the children's mother, Nicky Scheidt, said.
The Columbia family had looked at some of the dogs on the society’s website before driving over to their building at 616 Big Bear Blvd. “We originally thought about getting one from a breeder but would like to rescue one if we could,” she said.
After four months of living in a temporary facility, the animals from the Central Missouri Humane Society moved to their updated home Tuesday. The building opened to the public at noon on Wednesday.
The Humane Society’s building was renovated this summer with support from the Friends of Central Missouri Humane Society and a grant from ZooToo. The Humane Society won the organization’s shelter makeover contest in late April 2009. The contest prize, which promised up to $1 million toward the renovation, covered the cost of construction and supplies.
“The animals seem a little more relaxed,” the Humane Society's executive director, Alan Allert, said. “There’s more room to roam around and play.”
Allert on Thursday morning said ZooToo had not released the total cost of the renovation to the Central Missouri Humane Society. Allert said he was working to come up with a “street-value” of what the renovations had cost. He added that ZooToo told contractors not to discuss the figures.
ZooToo contracted directly with the construction companies for the project, Allert said, and some of the services were discounted in exchange for advertising or promotions.
The updates included a new ventilation system, fresh paint, and new cages for the animals.
Instead of chain-link cages, the dogs are now housed in epoxy painted cement block rooms with glass doors.
“When the animals first got here they came to the glass and ended up bumping their heads a lot,” Allert said.
“We’re going to be using a lot more Windex,” said Janie Mills, senior adoption counselor and an employee of the Humane Society for almost five years. “It’s a lot nicer, especially for the cats.”
Cats have new cages called “cat condos.” The blue plastic composite and fiberglass containers have three sections that cats can jump in and explore. Some cats are still in metal cages, but they are larger than the cages they replaced.
A sun room, called the "cat get acquainted area,” allows the felines to stretch their legs and interact with each other.
Jon and Kate Miller adopted a chocolate cocker spaniel from the Humane Society two years ago. They came to look around the renovated building Wednesday.
“We’re glad it doesn’t smell like it used to. That’s the biggest difference,” Jon Miller said.
But the couple isn't in the market for another animal companion; they also have a cat. “I think we’re at our pet capacity, but we can always be persuaded,” Jon Miller said.
The main entrance and lobby have been painted teal blue, and the floor was replaced. The changes were funded by the Friends of Central Missouri Humane Society. As part of the ZooToo contract, the money had to be used directly on the animals’ facilities.
“I know a lot of the people always say 'I’d love to adopt an animal but it’s always so depressing there and it makes me feel so bad.' so they tend to not come,” Allison Toth, shelter relations coordinator, said. “So now we'll advertise that it’s bright and colorful and so much happier back there, I really think it will help us increase adoptions and increase flow of the public through here.”
The Central Missouri Human Society's bid in the ZooToo shelter competition began after two local teenagers, Amanda Huhman and Libby Burks, began a grassroots campaign in February 2009.