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PhilRuffin and Gabby-smPhil Snyder, Executive Director

Press Articles


englewood sun logoBy Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society

Published in the Englewood Sun on April 16, 2017

There is a song written in the 1950s called “This Ole House”. I heard it on the radio recently and thought, wow, Rosemary Clooney could very well be singing about Suncoast Humane Society’s animal shelter.

This ole house is getting shaky.
This ole house is getting old.
This ole house lets in the rain.
This ole house lets in the cold.

After all, during the 1970s, the original shelter of Suncoast Humane Society (then known as Englewood Animal Aid Society) was, in fact, a house. Believe it or not, that ole house is still occupied with animals. The original house was added on to in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Today, even the later additions are old, in animal shelter years. Shelters built back then normally had life expectancies of less than 20 years. Especially those like Suncoast Humane that were constructed far below the standards set for animal shelters built today.

An evaluation by architects and engineers, conducted in 2012, of Suncoast Humane Society’s facility revealed that the major components, including structure, heat/air, electrical and plumbing were in critical condition. There are also many other inadequacies, including poor ventilation between sick and healthy animals, and lack of space for separating different species and sizes of animals. Cracks in the foundation and floors, rusted window and door frames, along with rotting frame wood and a leaking metal roof were also added to the shelter’s list of woes.

Animal Care staff works tirelessly to maintain the health and well-being of the homeless animals entrusted to their care. They also do everything possible to keep the old shelter as clean and sanitary as possible, even with its list of challenges. Customer Service employees work in cramped quarters to assist shelter visitors, adopters, people surrendering animals and four-legged patients to the preventive health care clinic. This ole house receives nearly 2500 homeless dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and various small creatures each year. In addition, over 4,200 pets are brought to the society’s preventive health care clinic which is housed in the same facility.

At over $250 a square foot it is estimated that the new Suncoast Humane Society Animal Care Center and Clinic will cost between 8 and 9 million dollars for construction and landscaping. Thanks to the generosity of donors to our preliminary “start-up” campaign, the Society was blessed with the opportunity to purchase over 11 acres of land, within barking distance of the current facility. The property was purchased for a fraction of its current estimated value through a bank foreclosure. Surveys were successfully conducted, and basic architectural drawings were completed.

The funding needed must be raised in addition to the Society’s 2 million dollar annual budget needed for the operation of the shelter, clinic, 3 thrift stores, services and programs. The stores sell quality donated items at bargain prices. Valuable income is used for the care of the animals.

If you, or someone you know, would like to help with the capital campaign, please contact Suncoast Humane Society and ask for the donor relations department. This Ole House has enjoyed a wonderful history. It has received and cared for thousands upon thousands of animals over the years. But, now there is a great need for a new house. We must assure safety and comfort for the thousands upon thousands of homeless animals that will need our help in the future. Please help us build that new house.