Humane society breaks ground on ‘animal community center’

When the Humane Society London and Middlesex was looking for support to build a new home, its executive director, Steve Ryall, saw Old Oak Properties had on its website a “chief barking officer.”

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When the Humane Society London and Middlesex was looking for support to build a new home, its executive director, Steve Ryall, saw Old Oak Properties had on its website a “chief barking officer.”

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That would be Captain, the best friend of Robert Bierbaum, brand manager for the builder.

Ryall knew then he found the right fit.

“I knew we were calling the right people and Old Oak was immediately interested, they were very supportive,” he said. “Old Oak has been very generous.”

Steve Ryall, the executive director of the Humane Society of London and Middlesex, announces details about the society's new home at a ground-breaking ceremony.  Photograph taken on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Mike Hensen / The London Free Press)
Steve Ryall, the executive director of the Humane Society of London and Middlesex, announces details about the society’s new home at a ground-breaking ceremony. Photograph taken on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Mike Hensen / The London Free Press)

The humane society broke ground Tuesday on its new $ 21-million home that will be called the Old Oak animal campus at 1414 Dundas St. When the facility opens in 2023 it will feature a 3,400-square-meter building on 4.4 hectares that will redefine animal care, Ryall said.

He said Old Oak and its commitment to animal wellbeing is a big reason for that.

“It is going to be great for the city and for its animals,” Ryall said.

The humane society campus will feature camps for youth to spend time with animals, school tours, a dog kennel for pet stays, training programs and a cat-themed café.

“There is not another facility like this anywhere that I am aware of. We are calling it an animal community center, ”Ryall said.

The humane society also launched a $ 10-million fundraising program – new home, new hope – to raise money for the center, he said.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the humane society. All our buildings are pet friendly. When the human society approached us, we are overjoyed to work with them, ”Robert Bierbaum said.

“Animals are furry friends. They are part of the family. “

Old Oak sold the land to the humane society and then donated $ 300,000 toward the naming rights for the center, Bierbaum said.

“I am very excited to see what the animal campus becomes,” he said.

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HSLM New Home. New Hope.

Old Oak Animal Campus has been carefully designed to meet the needs of our organization and our community. The enhanced facility will allow us to reach new levels of success in sheltering animals, educating community members, and increasing our animal welfare advocacy efforts. Learn more: http://www.hslm.ca/newhomenewhope

Posted by Humane Society London & Middlesex on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Old Oak animal campus will be a big change from the humane society’s current home of fewer than 930 square meters at its Clarke Road address.

The new office also will feature its own veterinarian clinic. Staff now drive animals to several clinics for care. The clinic on site also will offer care at a reduced cost, as the humane society believes some animals are dropped off for adoption due to the cost of caring for them, Ryall said.

“We have seen animals surrendered as people could not pay their veterinarian bills,” he said. “We will offer low cost and a large space (for animals.)”

The humane society has 215 to 225 animals in its care, 75 per cent of which are cats, with dogs, rabbits, mice, rats, birds and guinea pigs making up much of the balance.

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Bierbaum grew up with a love of animals on a hobby farm outside the city with “many dogs,” as well as barn cats and next to a wooded area populated by wild animals.

“We are very excited about this. We think it will work well with the redevelopment of the area, ”Bierbaum said.

The humane society office will be located on a portion of what was the former London Psychiatric Hospital land. On the same 72 hectare site, Old Oak is planning a massive residential redevelopment called Legacy Village that may include seven residential and commercial towers and more than 120 houses.

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