Middletown opens its own, much-needed animal shelter

MIDDLETOWN — Cats, dogs and other rescued animals can now take be housed within city limits following the opening of the new animal shelter in the North End.

Middletown will celebrate the launch with a “warming” party Saturday at 150 Berlin St., behind the Pieper-Olson veterinary care facility at the end of the road, the former site of The Dog Cabin, which moved to Stack Street.

Gail Petras is in her 17th year as Middletown’s senior animal control officer. This will be the first time the shelter is located in the city. The city shared a facility with the town of Portland for many years.

“This has been in the works for a long time so I’m very happy,” Petras said.

For the last several years, Middletown Animal Control was renting space over the Arrigoni Bridge, which, she said, is close to 40 years old and outfitted for a department that takes in far less animals than Middletown.

“It was just outdated,” Petras said.

The city worked out a 15-year rental agreement with Pieper-Olson to use their newly renovated space as a shelter. Improvements made include new air conditioning and heating systems, a washer and dryer, office space for adoption meetings, and separate spaces for different types of animals.

One upgrade that Petras is most excited about is the safer orientation of the kennels. They allow for officers or others to remain protected from animals while working with them. “This way, it’s all much easier with a dog we are unsure about,” she said.

Petras is excited to show off the new facility, and has seen excitement among residents as well. “The public knew we were getting a new space, and they’re excited to see it.”

The facility will be open to the public that day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Mayor Ben Florsheim and members of the Common Council will be in attendance to mark the occasion. The event will feature light refreshments and raffle prizes, ranging from pet supplies to free products from local businesses.

Masks will be required inside.

The event will also feature an educational aspect for children interested in learning more about the city’s animal control unit, Petras said.

Items still needed for the new shelter are included in an Amazon wish list posted at bit.ly/3jIUO2g. For information, visit the Middletown Animal Control Facebook page.