950 N Eau Claire St, Mondovi, Wisconsin 54755 bchapets@yahoo.com Cats: 715-318-0752 -- Dogs: 715-579-7017

Open Letter to Our Friends and Supporters (Sept, 2016)

To: Our Supporters and Friends in Buffalo County and Beyond

We know that you, the community, are as excited as we are about the upcoming opening of the Jerome and Judith Benson Animal Shelter in Mondovi. This is a dream that we have followed for many years and a project that is already more than a year in the making. Our goal was to have the building completed, open, and housing animals “before the snow flies” on the coming winter. We regret to inform you that an unexpected issue has arisen which may result in our missing that goal. Please believe that we are as disappointed by this delay as you are. This letter is to let you know the reason for the delay.

The original plans for the building included an in-floor heating system powered by geo-thermal energy. We believe that in-floor heating, particularly in the cat rooms and dog kennels, is essential to the health and well-being of the animals in our care. (After all, you wouldn’t want ice-cold concrete floors in your bedroom during a Wisconsin winter.) We also believe that geo-thermal energy is the most efficient and cost-effective method to power the in-floor heating system, thanks to several targeted grants and donations, as well as lower operating costs over the lifetime of the building. The in-floor geo-thermal system was installed last fall according to those plans. The concrete floor was then poured and work continued on finishing the building.

Unfortunately, issues developed with the in-floor heating system over the course of the winter and spring, including a number of leaks. After consultations with and testing by our expert advisers, it has been determined that the existing system cannot be repaired. It needs to be completely replaced. The only good news out of the situation is that the failure of the system is covered by our insurance policy, and our insurance company is committed to working with us to do whatever is necessary to get a working system in place.

The board determined that there were four basic options to address the issue. The first two require changing the announced plans for the building:

  1. Abandon the idea of in-floor heating completely.
  2. Abandon the idea of in-floor heating via geo-thermal and install an electric system.

The board discussed both of these options and has rejected them, for the same reasons that we initially selected an in-floor heating system via geo-thermal. We continue to believe that in-floor heating is essential to the health and well-being of the animals in our care. We continue to believe that geo-thermal energy offers the most efficient and cost-effective means of providing this in-floor heating over the lifetime of the building.

The last two options involve replacing the system with a new installation. They are:

  1. Tear out the existing concrete floor and heating system, install a new heating system, and pour a new concrete floor.
  2. Install a new heating system over the existing concrete floor and pour a new concrete floor, which will raise the height of the floor by several inches and require adjustments to doors and other structural elements of the shelter.

The board has been working with our expert advisers and new contractors to determine which of these options makes the most sense for us, looking at both the time required and the cost associated with each option. We believe it is important to be good stewards of the resources provided to us by our supporters, while also getting the building ready to open as soon as possible. After reviewing all of the available information, the board has determined that option #4 makes the most sense for us, and we are now working with our contractors to implement that decision. We will continue to provide updates to you at our monthly board meetings, which are open to the public, and on our Facebook page at facebook.com/bchapets. We also have a new website under construction at bcha-wi.org, which we hope to launch to the public very soon.

Please allow us to thank you, the community, for your continued support of BCHA. We could not do what we do without the folks who give of their time and/or financial resources. We would especially like to thank those who provide foster homes for the animals in our care, as they will be the most affected by this delay. Yet, even once the shelter opens, we will continue to need foster homes for some of our animals, and we know that our volunteers will continue to rise to the occasion. (If you would like to learn more about fostering, please contact us. We would love to tell you more.)

So thank you again for your support and for your understanding of this delay in the opening of the Jerome and Judith Benson Animal Shelter. The finish line for the dream is in sight. Just a little more patience to get us there.

Board of the Buffalo County Humane Association