‘Friends’ group supports Windsor animal shelter

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Thu., Oct. 31, 2013
Kristina and her daughter Ria brought out their puppy Misty for some socialization at the local Petco store on Oct. 26. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
Kristina and her daughter Ria brought out their puppy Misty for some socialization at the local Petco store on Oct. 26. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

Windsor’s animal shelter, now approximately 30 years old, has been a topic of discussion since 2002, when a new dog pound was introduced as part of a greater capital improvements plan for downtown Windsor.  While the Town Council has approved funds to pursue due diligence in a suitable property search, the cost of the actual project may run as high as $695,000. As of now, no location in town has been deemed appropriate or affordable for the project.

For years, with the help of the animal control officer, abandoned and wandering animals have been held at the Mechanic Street property temporarily. While the animals’ basic needs are met, anything unique or any animal in need of medical attention is generally not in the budget.

Officer Brian Davis has felt that pinch, pointing out a stray dog named Lucy who came to them with a serious eye defect. Lucy’s surgery, while necessary, was paid for by local residents and businesses. She was eventually adopted out to a new home.

Friends of Windsor Animal Care and Control has been the entity which works hard to raise funds to support the medical and quality-of-life needs that many of the animals Davis finds in his shelter. “Towns are not expected to take care of medical treatment,” said Davis. “It’s up to the adoptive families.”

But admittedly, many families cannot shell out hundreds of dollars in medical costs upon finding a pet they want to take home. That is where the “Friends” can step in to help a dog or cat with care so that they can enter a new home in a healthy state.

Friends President Debbie Sampson has been watching the slow progress toward the town approving a new shelter with eager interest.  She handles the pet food donations that come in and makes sure that they are distributed to the families in town who need them, but only to supplement their pet’s regular meals. “It’s a supplemental supply only,” said Sampson. Sampson says up to 85 families in town own pets which they couldn’t adequately feed if they didn’t have the help of the Friends.

“Some will call once a month,” said Sampson. “They will say, ‘I’ve really tried, but I need to use your services again,’” she said. “All I ask is that they have a Windsor address.”

Sampson feels that she and her colleagues are willing to do more in town to address the needs of stray and abandoned animals, but with the antiquated shelter, they are limited. “We are working very closely with the town manager and Town Council,” she said. “We could be doing more programs and outreach.”

Assistant Town Manager Emily Moon explained, “The [animal shelter] location is continuing to operate as our shelter until we've determined a new location,” she said.  Relocating the shelter is affected by the Mechanic Street apartment construction project and the commuter rail project, which are both forthcoming.  “As the apartment project has not even broken ground, we still have time to analyze our options [for the animal shelter]: contract for sheltering services, co-locate our shelter with another community either in Windsor or in a neighboring town, build a new facility in Windsor, lease suitable space in Windsor, etc,” said Moon. “Staff continues to evaluate options and will bring forward information to council for their decision-making when it is needed.’

It’s been about a year since any new information has been discussed, and Sampson feels a constant urgency to move forward. “Please see the need,” she said. “We need it and we need it soon.”

The Friends came together on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Windsor Petco. They invited the public to come and bring their pets in costume. They were able to raise funds for assisting animals in need at the animal shelter.

If you would like to donate food or the items to the animal shelter, contact Officer Brian Davis as 860-688-4545.

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