For nearly four years, Steve Drynan, executive director of the Three Rivers Humane Society, and his wife, Jerilee, director of operations for the facility, have been on a mission to improve the lives of the dogs entrusted to their care.
The first year that the Drynans took over operation of the Jefferson County kennels, in the fall and winter of 2013-14, they immediately launched a campaign to raise money for a spay and neuter program, as well as to provide electricity to the outdoor kennels for heated dog beds and bowls for cold weather.
Since then, they have raised funds to cover and tarp the outdoor kennels, set up outdoor play yards, and last year, to replace the 10 old concrete indoor kennels with stainless steel kennels, to help prevent spread of the deadly parvovirus.
In January 2015, the nonprofit launched a campaign to raise up to $400,000 for the construction of a new facility. A little more than two and a half years later, the Drynans and their supporters broke ground Aug. 29, on the 5,300-square-foot project.
The new facility will house 41 indoor kennels, Three Rivers' adoption office, employee office, break room, bathroom, and "meet and greet" room, which will be dedicated to the late Russell Bird, a weatherman at KTVZ, who had helped get the word out about Three Rivers Humane Society's plans. The 27-year-old Bird died on April 5, 2016.
"He had done several stories on KTVZ," said Steve Drynan, who recalled the young meteorologist's humor and enthusiasm for their project. "He was at the shelter doing a story three days before he took his own life."
Drynan was moved when Bird's mother suggested donations to the shelter.
"He was very interested in the shelter and how we were taking care of the dogs," said Drynan. "He wanted to help with the building campaign."
Donations submitted in Bird's name have so far amounted to about $53,000 of the $343,342 raised during Three Rivers Humane Society's "Raise the Woof!" campaign.
Chuck Thurman, of BC Construction, will be the general contractor for the project — a block building, which will feature a stucco exterior — but other contractors will also work on the project.
"High Desert Contracting, of Bend, has donated the entire roof," said Drynan.
Originally, he had hoped to start the project last fall, but learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would require all of their floor drains to run into a holding tank, and from there, into a vegetative bioswale — at least for spring, summer and fall.
"In the winter, we have to have it pumped," said Drynan, noting that the requirements raised their costs by $8,000-$10,000.
Another cost overrun was created when they had to reroute their water main into the existing building, so that it wouldn't be underneath the new building's concrete slab.
With most of the fundraising behind them, Drynan is eager to see the building enclosed. "Our biggest thing is to get this building up, with walls and ceilings and kennels before winter hits, and then they can go to work on the interior stuff as we go," he said.
There are currently only about 30 dogs at the shelter, since they had to tear down 18 of their kennels to start the building project. "There are also about 30 puppies in foster care," he added.
Once the new building is completed, he said, the existing building will be used for isolation, with an intake room for treating sick or injured dogs, along with medications, scales and vaccinations.
A total of 20 outdoor kennels remain. "We'll have outdoor kennels so (the dogs) can be taken out while their indoor kennels are cleaned," said Drynan.
The Drynans are very grateful for all their donors. "One gentleman did a $45,000 match if we could raise $45,000 this year, and we did," Steve Drynan said. "Another donor did the same with a $10,000 match."
PetCo, which had donated $30,000 last year for the new, stainless steel kennels, contributed $10,000 to the new building.
"We're really hitting the digging tomorrow," he said on Monday. "The contractors are all raring to go."