By Kathryn Menue


On the brisk morning of Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m., citizens, board members, contractors, architects, subcontractors, and dogs crowded into the new Boone County Animal Services (BCAS) building for the ribbon cutting event. Spirits were high as the long awaited animal services building finally became a reality after so many years of planning and construction.

“It’s been a very long process,” Boone County Health Department Administrator Amanda Mehl said. “It’s beautiful. It’s great.”

The initiation of proposing a new animal services building began in 2003. Board member Becky Tobin helped head the project for four or five years before others like Chairman Bob Walberg became involved.

“Becky, this has been a long time coming for you,” Walberg said. The project has been a long time coming for other board members, such as Paul Larson.

“This building is here because of Mr. Larson,” Walberg said. “He had faith and determination to make it happen.”

Walberg added that Larson’s “calm nature” saw the project through.

Ken Terrinoni had a hand in the new building as well, contributing many factors behind the scenes over the years.

So, after Larson gave a blessing to the new building, its workers, and its volunteers, Terrinoni and Larson cut the ribbon together.

Afterward, they cut the ribbon into 36 pieces and passed the pieces around as souvenirs to the attendants of the morning’s ceremony.

The animal services project was dear to Walberg’s heart, since he found his beloved dog Pepe at the old facility.

Walberg adopted Pepe off the euthanization list, and Pepe quickly became “one of the most important members” of the Walberg family.

Walberg emotionally recalled Pepe snuggling up with his wife to comfort her as she went through chemotherapy.

“He’s our story through animal services,” Walberg said.

Pepe found a good life after coming to the shelter smelly, dirty, and alone. BCAS named him Pepe since he looked like a little French poodle and smelled like the iconic Pepe Le Pew.

Pepe wasn’t the only success story present at the ribbon cutting.

Dolly, a Great Pyrenees, was found wandering in northern Boone County. She was emaciated and only weighed about 45 pounds. However, after she found love with owner Robin Terusaki, she quickly became healthy, now weighing 140 pounds.

Walberg hopes the new facility can help create more success stories like these because the new building will have the amenities to care for more animals in a comfier environment.

The new BCAS is 3,200 square feet compared to the 60-year-old 1,200 square foot building.

The new facility has two separate kennel rooms. One is for strays and biter quarantine dogs, and the other is for adoptable dogs.

The kennels have barriers to minimize the spread of disease, whereas the other facility had chain link dividers.

The new shelter has drains for the indoor and outdoor kennels, whereas the old building did not.

The new BCAS has an adoption room off the lobby, a holding area, and a work area.

There is an activity room and animal receiving bay where new arrivals can be brought into the facility safely during inclement weather or to help the dog from escaping when being removed from the vehicle. This area has an HVAC system, and can serve as a meeting room, training room, or shelter event room. The first event that will be held in the room is an open house set for the spring of 2017. This open house will include an adoption event and a microchip clinic.

The facility also has a grooming area with a walk in dog shower stall and exam table.

Outdoors, there is a chain link fence area where dogs can exercise. This area cost $12,000. Al Johnson donated $10,000 to help fund the fence. The rest of the fence was covered through the department’s donation fund.

The lobby has a nice Smart TV donated by Bob Christenson in loving memory of his wife, Betty. The television will be used for displaying upcoming events, adoptable animals, and other general information.

Another donation was the flagpole outside the new facility.

Plus, there is space for cats or other small animals when needed.

“There are currently no ordinances addressing cats; however, the department is working with local rescue groups to look at programs such as a community cat program,” the BCAS released in a statement. “BCAS does accept sick, injured, and owner surrender cats from Boone County residents.”

The new facility came after two years of construction and $1 million.

“The majority of the building ($800,000) was paid for by the referendum that passed in November of 2014,” the BCAS released. “The remaining balance of the cost will be paid for by a $5 increase in rabies tag revenue that was assigned to the building project and implemented a couple of years ago.”

Of course, the cost was high, but the need was greater, as Boone County Animal Services Lead Officer Justin Unger can attest.

“It will be easier on me, since I won’t have to fix everything,” Unger said.

Before, he would fix walls, kennels, and everything else that went wrong in the old facility.

This new building has a sturdy foundation, it’s more secure, it has more variety in kennel sizes, and it has extra cage space.

This new building became a reality once two/thirds of Boone County voters approved the referendum to fund the new facility.

“We just want to thank everybody for the support,” Walberg said. “By far, it was the best decision we made to ask the voters.”

BCAS also is thankful for architect Mark Schmidt of Knapp Schmidt Architects and Rockford Structures.

“We really appreciate what a wonderful job you did,” Walberg said.

The new facility will officially be open to the public in mid December and is located at 4546 Squaw Prairie Road in Belvidere in between Maple Crest and Heritage Woods.


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