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Newtown Breaks Ground on New Animal Shelter

Supporters gather to celebrate culmination of a 12 year dream to bring a better home to animals in need.

A crowd of around 40 people and dogs gathered at the future home of the Newtown Animal Shelter off of Trades Lane Wednesday for its long-awaited ground-breaking ceremony.

“This is the day that our dream was realized,” said Canine Advocates of Newtown president Virginia Jess.

For many, it was the culmination of 12 years of grassroots fund-raising efforts by Canine Advocates of Newtown and individual citizens to build a larger, cleaner facility for the shelter’s dogs.

The effort “reflects the passion Newtown owners have for their animals,” Jess said.

Maureen Donnel was on hand with her 14-year-old dog Misty, along with Judy Caracciolo and her dog Scooby-Doo. Both pets were former residents of the shelter. Donnel and Caracciolo have been instrumental in Canine Advocates of Newtown’s efforts to build a new shelter.

Donnel purchased a sponsorship of one of the new rooms planned for the shelter. Caracciolo and her granddaughter Leah Marie, also present for the ceremony, have done several fundraisers, such as jewelry-making for numerous tag sales, with the proceeds going to the shelter.

“It’s the story of the shelter,” Donnel said of the efforts.

Though the majority of the funding of the new shelter -- $750,000 -- came from Newtown’s Capital Improvement Plan, small-scale fundraising efforts such as Caracciolo’s have provided nearly $250,000 toward the new facility.

First Selectman Pat Llodra praised the fundraising drive as a very successful example of a joint initiative of local government and the public.

“We hope the shelter will open in December,” said Llodra.

Jess thanked several people who were instrumental in the drive for the new shelter including former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal and Newtown Public Works Director Fred Hurley “who have continued to be point people on this project.”

Thanks also went to Canine Advocates of Newtown board members Adria Henderson, Karen Nash, Phil Vail and Frank McCloskey as well as Municipal Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason and Kennel Keeper Matt Schaub “for taking care of the animals.”

Jess’s voice faltered as she spoke about “our dear Brian” referring to the late Newtown veterinarian Brian Silverlieb of Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital, who up to his death in February of this year was a benefactor of the shelter.

Silverlieb and his staff provided free  veterinary services to injured animals and his hospital offered temporary housing to animals awaiting adoption.

“I know he’s smiling today,” Jess said.

Tom August 11, 2011 at 01:42 PM
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Tom August 11, 2011 at 01:43 PM
750K comes from Newtown Capital Fund?????. I can not believe with all the issues with the roads and other more critical capital projects that this PROJECT has any town funds. This should be all private funds. And we wonder why are taxes are high and we fail in creating revenue opportunities. Maybe we should change the name of the town to Park town as we have more parks than we have business's.
Bodie August 11, 2011 at 01:53 PM
I have a child that lives in Monroe. They have a 2700 square ft home on 1 acre. I have the same size home with 3 acres here in town. They pay $12,000 a year in taxes and I only pay $7,500. Monroe with all their business revenue from RT 111 and RT 25 can't keep their library open. I think we've spent our money well in Newtown especially when that penny pincher Herb was First Selectman.
yoda August 11, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Now the animals will have better facility then our own POLICE OFFICERS, I know that the money was raised over the course of many years but really?
Teacher August 11, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Any word on the dog park? Isn't it going to be built in conjunction with the new shelter? Also, I am 100% with Bodie above. I am happy to live here and pay taxes for things like this, our public schools, our roads, our police, our library, our senior center, and all the other wonderful benefits we have from living in such a great town.
yoda August 11, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Teacher, I'm 100% with you but I find it odd how we think so little of our police officers, for instance, that building is a absolute disgrace,it shows such a lack of respect towards them, there job is to keep us safe! That is the one thing in this town that drives me mad!
Newtown Mom August 11, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I haven't heard anyone saying not to fix the Police Station. If that is a need then it should be brought up and steps put in place to get it done. The Police in Newtown do a great job. The town has grown since that building was built. Same with the Animal Shelter. Great Job to those that have raised the funds and thank you for volunteering your time. : )
yoda August 11, 2011 at 06:03 PM
That building was used to sell farm machinery in the 70's then transformed into a police dept, under who's standards? Couldn't tell you!
Gina August 11, 2011 at 10:45 PM
I have no children, but pay taxes for schools, buses, soccer fields, etc without complaint because it is necessary for the good of the community. Why not support an animal shelter? Thank you to the people who volunteered and made this happen.
Benay Yaffe August 11, 2011 at 11:21 PM
The proposed dog park has land reserved adjacent to the new shelter. We have raised $13K toward our goal of $50K to construct and maintain the park. Follow our progress and/or get involved by going to http://www.newtownparkandbark.org/.
onceuponanewtown August 12, 2011 at 01:48 AM
How many dogs has the current shelter had to service at one time? Is this a wise expense considering the current economic state we are in? Why not just update the current facility?
Mike Kelley August 12, 2011 at 02:25 AM
Virginia and Herb and all of the several hundred and perhaps thousands who have worked for all these years to make this happen, Thank you. I know how hard it is to spend years raising funds to support this community and keep our taxes down, yet provide the services we need to make this a great Town. We were fortunate enough to be able to get a wonderful pregant dog from our Pound. The late Dr. Brian Silverlieb shared in this mission and provided services to the Town over the last 20 years, most of which was free. Dr. Silverlieb delivered 6 wonderful puppies who delight all, 6 years later. RIP Dr. Silverlieb. Your little friends friends are happy and healthy and have made a lot of us very happy over the years. Contributions from those who adopted the puppies was around $1200. all of which went to the pound fund raising project. This new facility will continue to provide the services expected and deserved for those unfortunate dogs and cats who find themselves abandoned or lost.

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