Mountain Humane opened its doors to the public Monday for the grand opening of its new animal shelter, welcoming more than 1,000 people and celebrating the community that made the $16 million facility possible.

“We’re just so fortunate to have a community that made this happen,” Community Campaign Coordinator Kelly Odell said while giving a tour.

The 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility was built on 20 acres of anonymously donated land on Croy Creek Road, west of Hailey, and was funded by private donations. The new building sits across the road from the former facility, which was “being held together with zip-ties and duct tape,” Odell said. The new facility has 58 kennels, with space to build more.

Because cats get adopted at about half the rate of dogs, which have spent an average of 22 days at the shelter, the facility features cats prominently as soon as visitors walk in the door, with glass-walled rooms where the cats lounge, play and nap. In addition, a cat café will fully open for human diners on March 30. During the grand opening Monday, the café offered free cookies, coffee and tea.

The facility was designed by Animal Architects, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that specializes in designing animal shelters. The design includes noise-resistant indoor play areas and heated flooring in the front portion of the dog kennels—to encourage the dogs to stay in the front of the kennel so they can be featured better for adoption. Come spring, Central Bark will be open. The fenced area includes a landscaped courtyard for on-leash dog walks and a splash park for dogs and humans to enjoy during the summer heat.

The new shelter is also 100 percent ADA accessible. The shelter has regularly taken pets to the Senior Connection in Hailey, but now seniors will be able to come to the facility and interact not just with the animals, but with other community members visiting the facility as well, Odell said.

The building itself is powered by a 100-kilowatt solar-panel system and heated and cooled through a heat-pump system that uses groundwater from two wells, saving 77 percent of the facility’s projected propane use, according to an information sheet.

In the treatment and surgery area, multiple veterinarians can perform surgery while vet techs prep the next animals during high-volume spay/neuter days.

Since 2006, Mountain Humane (then the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley) has had a free spay/neuter program for anyone who cannot afford the procedure. Since its inception, the free clinic has been full every week, with up to 50 spays and neuters done in a day, Odell said.

The treatment area also features its own in-house lab center, an intensive-care unit, a radiology room for X-rays and an isolation room for infected animals with transmittable illnesses.

“We are delighted that more than 1,000 community members of all ages came to enjoy our grand opening celebration, taking tours and checking out all the new spaces and programs we’re offering the public,” Executive Director Dr. Jo-Ann Dixon said via email Tuesday. “We are deeply grateful to the more than 500 individuals and families who donated to our campaign and are making possible the big vision to make Idaho a no-kill state by 2025.”

The new facility is open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and private tours are available to those who missed the grand opening.

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