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“A dream comes true” – Regina Humane Society officially opens

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It was a big day for furry friends and animal lovers.
The grand opening of the Regina Humane Society (RHS) Animal Community Centre took place on Saturday.

A sleepy cat

A sleepy kitten waits for his forever home. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

Members of the community gathered for a ceremonial opening ceremony.

Lisa Koch, executive director of the RHS, said there were a lot of emotions in the air.
“It was a long journey and a dream come true,” she said.
“There are a lot of overwhelming emotions, especially when you see all the people, donors, supporters, volunteers and staff who are really working so hard to put together this new facility for our community.”
Construction of the facility began in May 2022.
Koch said donors played a big role in this project.

Writing on a wall with explanations of two donors to the RHS.

One of many exhibitions honoring two donors to the RHS. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

“All over this facility, people's names are engraved on plaques or painted on the walls,” she said. “These are not just names, but stories of people who believed in our vision and who believe in compassion and caring for animals. It's a really exciting opportunity for the public to not only visit the animal community center, adopt a pet or learn about pets, but also read the stories of the people who made this incredible facility possible.”

One of the final donations to conclude the Almost Home campaign came from David Dowton, a long-time RHS supporter.
According to Koch, the campaign started three years ago and is intended to support the construction of the new facility.
“Last month we received a visit from Keith Downton, who presented us with a check for a million dollars from his brother David Downton and his beloved dog Annie,” Koch said.
“He loved animals his entire life, whether it was dogs, cats or raccoons, so being able to honor David's memory and create a true legacy for him and his love of animals was a truly touching and incredible conclusion to our capital campaign.”
David knew about the planned facility, but unfortunately never got to see the finished product. He died in October at the age of 64.

Koch became emotional as she spoke to the large crowd about David's incredible contribution.
“There are truly no words to adequately express our gratitude to David and his selflessness,” she said. “His donation concludes our nearly completed fundraising campaign, where we reached our $15 million goal. But more importantly, his donation shows how important donors are to everything we do. Without David and without our donors, there would be no shelter.”
Thanks to donors like David, the new facility has much more to offer than the old building, which was in operation for nearly 60 years.
“This new facility represents a turning point for animal welfare in our community,” Koch said. “It is almost twice the size of our previous facility.”
She said the new facility will serve as a gathering place for the community.

The new Regina Humane Society.

The doors of the RHS are officially open. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

“We are easily accessible, we have bus service, we have bike paths and sidewalks, we are close to the community, which is really wonderful,” she said.
“But the building itself is a tool that will fundamentally change the way we care for the animals. We have stress-free environments, meaning no more cages. We have suites for our dogs and cats that we can adopt. We have odor and sound control and state-of-the-art waste management. So it really is a comfortable and homey place for the animals and the people who visit the animal community center, whether it's an adopter, a volunteer or someone who just wants to celebrate the bond between humans and animals.”

The opening ceremony coincides with the 60th anniversary of the RHS.
It all began in 1964, when Margaret Borland placed a short ad in the Regina Leader-Post asking community members to form an organization to care for animals in the city.
The rest is history.

Koch is excited about the future of the RHS and hopes for greater community involvement.
“We have a fantastic volunteer program that ranges from working directly with the animals to making activity toys to helping with landscaping,” she said.

Volunteers at the RHS

Volunteers from the Royal Horticultural Society help to make toys for the animals out of common household items. (Nicole Garn/980 CJME)

“There's something for everyone. What I really love most about it is that it creates a sense of community. We're one big family here. All of our staff, volunteers and supporters are here for the same reason. It's the love of animals that unites us. It's a great way to get involved.