Tartu Animal Shelter facing new challenges due to reconstruction work

More and more animals are being brought to shelters as winter sets in.
More and more animals are being brought to shelters as winter sets in. Source: Michael Cole

As winter approaches and the nights grow darker, more and more animals are being brought in from the streets to special shelters where they can be properly cared for. At the Tartu Animal Shelter, the coming months will be particularly difficult, due to a major reconstruction project which means keeping dogs in temporary facilities until the work is completed.

While there are usually around 70 cats housed at the Tartu Animal Shelter, currently there are over 130, which also creates a strain on resources.

"The trend is that more  (animals) are coming in. People are noticing that the cold weather is on its way and that the animals need help to stop them getting caught in the cold. Now they are paying even more attention to the need to bring animals to the shelter right away," said Pilla Osborn, administrator at the Tartu Animal Shelter.

In addition to cats, there are also more currently over 30 dogs at the shelter, which is also a much higher number than usual.

This year, the situation will be complicated further by the construction of a new office building at the shelter, meaning the dogs currently in residence will be forced to stay in temporary enclosures.

The center's previous main building, a former Soviet army communications center, which could only accommodate two or three people at any one time, has already been demolished, with construction work on a new premises firmly underway. According to Osborn, while the shelter has been able to help a lot of animals up to now, the expansion is necessary as they receive around 7,000 visitors on average per year.

"With the money donated to the shelter, we've been able to improve the lives of the animals, but up to now, at our own expense. This office space was really small and the lobby, where people sign in, was exactly the same; really, really tiny," Osborn explained.

Once complete, in addition to the office, the new building will also contain a classroom and separate rooms for veterinarians and volunteers.

The renovation of the shelter will cost upwards of €1.5 million, with construction set to last until July. According to staff at the shelter, dealing with so many animals during the construction work will be a challenge.

"It's not easy with the renovation work (going on)," said Osborn. "We're keeping an eye on the animals and putting them where they need to be. We don't really know what each day will bring, where exactly the digging will take place or how long it will take to organize things. We can move trees with the help of volunteers. And we're always looking for new volunteers," Osborn said.

More information about the Tartu Animal Shelter, including how to donate and volunteer, can be found here.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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