Mayor Daniel Biss said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon that Evanston’s new animal shelter will let the city treat animals “with dignity and compassion.”

Daniel Biss.

Biss said the staff and volunteers from the Evanston Animal Shelter Association have been “all in” on that task — but the city’s old animal shelter building “has been unequal to that commitment.”

Biss said he’s also proud the new shelter will be a “net zero” building. The city, he said, in a moment of financial stress, could have scrimped and saved for short term economic gain, but instead has chosen to create a model for what a public building ought to be.

A rendering of the planned new animal shelter.

The $6.8 million project to build the new shelter on the existing Oakton Street site is being paid for in part by a $2 million grant from Cook County.

Josina Morita.

County Commissioner Josina Morita said, “This project is exactly what government is about — when we can partner across different layers of government and be more than the sum of our parts.”

In return for the county funding, the city has agreed to accept stray animals recovered by county workers from across the northern portion of the county.

She also praised the “volunteer time and love and commitment” that helped make the project possible.

Vicky Pasenko

Vicky Pasenko, executive director of the Evanston Animal Shelter Association, thanked the mayor, council and city staff and shelter staff and volunteers for their work to make the project a reality.

The association has committed to raise just over $1 million toward the project cost.

Pasenko said that recently moving the cat care portion of the shelter operation to a temporary facility on South Boulevard has demonstrated how having more space and public access has complete changed the dynamic of the facility.

The extra space, she added, has made the animals “happier, healthier and easier to adopt.”

The new shelter, she said, “will allow us to provide the living space that our animals deserve.”

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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