Contact – Alisha Vianello, Executive Director
June 15, 2022 (East St. Louis, IL) – Across the country, many animal shelters are in crisis mode with the amount of dogs and cats entering their facility. In addition to the growing population and urgency for fosters and adopters, Gateway Pet Guardians (GPG) is also experiencing rising temperatures inside their 54,000 sq. ft. Pet Resource Center, which is a former elementary school in the heart of East St. Louis.
“The air conditioning (AC) has been going out gradually in every room and we don’t have the money for new units right now,” Alisha Vianello, Executive Director at GPG said. “Many of these rooms house animals and with this heat wave and increased occupancy, we are concerned that our building cannot keep up with the demand.”
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Before GPG moved to their current location, the former Miles Davis Elementary School stood vacant for years with little to no maintenance to the property or its systems. During their most recent capital campaign, GPG successfully fundraised $500,000 for renovations to the building, which were mainly focused on building out the adoption kennels, surgery suite, grooming spa and pet supply retail store. With years of neglect, the costs to repair the massive building grew immensely and the $500,000 went quickly.
“The estimated cost for a unit and install is $4,000 per room,” Vianello said. “The hottest time of the year is also the most dangerous time of the year for outdoor animals so we desperately need funds to fix our failing HVAC system and also, get dogs and cats out of the shelter.”
GPG has 28 individual units providing air conditioning and heat to 26 different rooms, and only 25 percent of them are currently functioning. The majority of these rooms are utilized for animal care and without functioning HVAC systems, GPG cannot intake any dogs and cats. With the purchase of an older building comes maintenance and replacement needs. When GPG moved in 2020, it had a fully operational HVAC system. It was an older system, but due to budget constraints, it was not in the first phase of renovations. GPG’s HVAC system is a combination of a forced air roof system and individual room units. Over the last two years, the individual room units have been steadily needing more repair and losing all function. These are very old, specialized units that most technicians have deemed beyond repair, are not willing to work on and/or are no longer able to get parts for the units. The time has come to do a large HVAC renovation. GPG has developed a plan to replace the old HVAC units in a cost efficient way. The larger, old units will be replaced with Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC) units (typically used in hotels or apartments). These are smaller than the old units but will provide the necessary air conditioning and heating needed for the rooms. Light construction will be needed to cover the remaining hole in the wall left by the old system.
“GPG is currently over capacity with the number of dogs and cats in the shelter,” Vianello said. “When the temperatures soar above 90 or below freezing, the rooms without HVAC will become completely uninhabitable, which will decrease our ability to take in any new animals in need. With a new HVAC system, GPG will be able to consistently provide space for animal care. There is also the potential for mold to grow in the rooms in the summer due to humidity without air conditioning running.”
The impact of replacing these units will ensure their veterinary clinic can continue surgery without interruption. Currently, the surgery suite has one working HVAC unit. If that unit stops working, the clinic will not be able to function during the hottest summer or coldest winter days. The clinic is scheduled out, with their community spay/neuter program regularly booking 4-6 weeks out. Lastly, it will ensure their volunteers and staff have a comfortable and inviting environment while at the shelter.
GPG desperately needs your help to get the new units up and running. You can make a donation to help replace the HVAC system at gatewaypete.com/donate. You can also open your home to a shelter pet in need. Visit gatewaypets.org to learn more about adoption and fostering.
About Gateway Pet Guardians:
Gateway Pet Guardians (GPG) is a 501(c)3 animal welfare organization focused on creating a community of healthy pets and empowered pet owners in the East Side Pet District – East St. Louis, Cahokia Heights, Washington Park and Fairmont City. Founded in 2004, GPG works to provide judgment-free and equitable access to pet resources, as well as remove barriers to pet ownership through progressive programming and collaborative partnerships. GPG relies on the generosity of contributors, funders and
volunteers to help further the mission of keeping pets and people together in the East Side Pet District. For more information or to make a donation, visit gatewaypets.org.
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