Cleveland Animal Protective League Breaks Ground On $13.5 Million Expansion

Genoa the cat (left) and Cowgirl the dob (right)
Genoa (left) and Cowgirl (right) are available for adoption at the Cleveland Animal Protective League. [Cleveland APL]

The Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL) is no longer just a shelter, it’s an animal resource center – and that's the basis for its $13.5 million expansion on Willey Avenue.

"We'll be able to provide more enriched and less stressful stays to the animals who come in to the APL needing to find a new home," said CEO Sharon Harvey. "There will be two "catios" up front, where select cats will live in a group and have safe indoor access to an outdoor area."

Expanded play areas and design follow the animal fear free initiative whose "goal is to reduce negative emotional states, such as fear, anxiety, frustration and stress that are commonly experienced by animals in a shelter," Harvey said.

Another issue facing the APL is necessary space for emergency rescues involving large numbers of animals.

Those cases are often unpredictable and in the last 17 months, APL’s humane investigations team has handled five cases involving between 80 and 140 animals each, Harvey said.

"Our new garage will be readily convertible into a temporary emergency housing space when we need to help large number of animals whether they're victims of cruelty or in response to emergency or other disaster," she said.

Other features of the new facility will include the ability to offer help and resources for low-income pet owners in an attempt to keep pets with their families, rather than taking in more animals for shelter.

"Through our new public facing veterinary clinic, we'll be able to offer more basic care and support to more income qualified pet owners," Harvey said. "We'll also be able to offer resources and support to income qualified clients through Project CARE [Community Animal Retention Effort]."

Because of space constraints, APL currently helps 800 animals and families per year and is aware the need is far greater, she said.

"The APL plays such an important role here in Cleveland, ensuring that our animals are taken care of, ensuring that, whether it's dogs or cats or all sorts of different folks and animals that walk in this front door get a second chance, get that loving touch, get that medical care they need," said Ward 3 councilmember Kerry McCormack, who represents downtown and the Ohio City street where the APL is located.

About 75 percent of the funding needed for the project has already been raised, according to Harvey, and the APL is asking the community to help raise more than $3 million for the remainder of the expansion.

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