8/14/2018. Today our guys removed the weeds that have grown in the foundation while we wait for our building to be built in the factory.
The use of this machine has been donated by Ahearn Equipment, Inc.
We are so grateful for their donation!
The rest of the week the guys will be busy installing the floor drains and the floor from Lyons Plumbing and Heating in preparation for our building, built by Morton Buildings, Inc. in Westfield, to be delivered next week.
We need your help still to finish the interior.
Please donate if you can – we have quite a way to go, yet!
Thank you all. With your help we are now in stage 3 of rebuild!
Hoping for a grand opening at the beginning of 2019!
Join us for a great day of golfing, raffles, and fun. Prizes for Longest Drive, Closest to the Pin, and more!! Proceeds going towards the new Shelter, currently under construction. Bring your friends and support a great cause. Cost is $100 per player, $400 per team. Includes greens fee, cart, and meal to follow.
Limited to first 144 golfers. Sign up by Aug. 12th. To register, please complete the registration form, then email it to Tom Savage (email@example.com) or send by mail to Sweetpea For Animals (Golf Tournament), 1090 Pleasant St., Paxton, MA 01612
For those who may not know our history, Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals, Inc. was founded in 2000 by the then Rutland Animal Control Officer, Richard (Dick) Clark. After rescuing a sick and pregnant dog in Rutland State Park who gave birth to six puppies that died shortly after birth of infection, Dick felt a strong need to provide a safe haven for abandoned and homeless animals. The dog he rescued was named Sweetpea and, after intensive care at Westside Animal Clinic, she was adopted into a loving home at Treasure Hunt Farm in Rutland where she lived out the rest of her natural life. Dick, together with family and community members, organized and named our organization after Sweetpea, who is pictured in our logo (to the right). Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals, Inc. began as a small shelter out of Dick’s home kennel and garage.
Over the course of about 10 years, Sweetpea raised money with the goal of buying land and building a new shelter facility in Rutland. Unfortunately the search for a site was not successful, but an opportunity to lease a kennel just over the town line in Paxton presented itself. Sweetpea moved into the former Palatine Kennels and opened there on July 1, 2012. After leasing for nearly 3 years, the owner offered to sell the property to Sweetpea. Sweetpea purchased the property on April 29, 2015. We were planning to begin renovations when a devastating fire occurred on November 22, 2015. The shelter building was destroyed and most of our precious animals perished. The cause of the fire was thought to be electrical.
Shortly after the fire, Sweetpea reinforced the board of directors with some people we thought could help us rebuild. Unfortunately, matters did not move forward with the Town of Paxton and most of our board members resigned in October of 2016. At that point we felt we needed to hire an attorney to help us through the process. Sweetpea hired the law firm Seder and Chandler of Worcester and Attorney Mark Borenstein worked tirelessly with the town from November 2016 until November 2017 to successfully regain the Special Permit and Variance needed to rebuild the kennel. In January 2017, we were able to reform the board of directors with new, enthusiastic members.
In order to proceed through the arduous process of obtaining the permits necessary for the rebuild, Sweetpea had to engage an architect, an engineer, a surveyor, as well as pay for permits and fees to the town. The town also required us to add additional safety features and water and waste containment enhancements to our rebuilding plans, just to name a few unanticipated expenses.
We received our permit to demolish the building in January 2018 and the old building has been razed. In February we received a permit to put in the foundation. We will be applying for additional permits as we progress in the building process. We decided not to reopen the small boarding kennel attached to the house until construction is completed due to the noise and disruption associated with rebuilding.
Sweetpea has continued to have the costs of the mortgage, taxes and maintenance of the property which includes a house that we are using for administrative purposes. We paid extensive veterinary costs for the animals who did survive the fire and more for animals that we have taken into foster care during the time we have been closed. We have paid the legal fees and prebuilding expenses. Now we face the costs of the site work, the building, and the interior work. We have our insurance payment which will cover a portion of the cost and we have the remainder of the Rebuild Account that was funded from generous donations post-fire that we are so grateful to everyone for. Yet, the expenses are great. When the building is completed our final expense will be installing the kennels for the dogs and housing for the cats. So many people have asked what we have done with the money that was raised after the fire. We hope this answers your questions and helps you understand our need to fund raise again to complete the project. With your help, we will soon have a comfortable, safe and secure building to again be able to house homeless dogs and cats until they find their forever homes. Sweetpea is a non-profit, no-kill animal welfare organization dedicated to the rescue, care, and placement of homeless animals. We sincerely thank you all for your continued support; we cannot do this without you!
February 22, 2018. The Sweetpea Board and Volunteers have just held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new shelter. The pin has been set and the construction crew are preparing for the foundation to be poured. See the Shelter page for more photos of the ceremony!
It has certainly been a difficult 16 months since our devastating fire, and we wish more than anything we could provide you with news of rebuild. We recognize that it is exhausting for all to hear about nothing but obstacles, permitting issues, roadblocks, and other setbacks.
Before our new Board of Directors was formed, our president, Dick Clark, and then treasurer, Mary Clark, engaged a law firm on Sweetpea’s behalf to begin to work aggressively with the Town of Paxton on issues with permits and zoning. This is an active process that takes time. We have received many goodhearted suggestions that we truly appreciate, and we have followed up on all of them. We assure you that we are leaving no stone unturned. In keeping with our promise to remain transparent, information can be found here on our website and on our Facebook page. Members of our board are actively learning how to edit the pages of our website for times when our webpage administrator is not available. Once they are able to edit, it will be easier to keep it up to date.
We are the first to acknowledge that the public deserves to be kept up to date on our status, but the reality is, there is no more to say at the moment. Our mission is to serve homeless animals and it is distressing to our volunteers not to be able to fulfill this mission. That is the bottom line, and the one thing that keeps us going. We need to rebuild to save the animals in need, and so are remaining confident that we will get there. Sweetpea has had a very strong community of volunteers and supporters that have helped hold us together during this time. The truth of the matter is, we cannot rebuild without your continued support. Our new board is working towards learning their roles and taking on tasks; names and pictures of our officers and board members are posted on our website, and meeting minutes will be posted as they are accepted. Right now our focus is on keeping our name out there, attending events, and holding fundraisers so we can continue to pay the expenses on the property.
As mentioned earlier, we have hired lawyers to help us work with the town and decipher what we need to do, what paths we need to or can attempt to take, and what our legal rights are. We have also been working with a new accountant to ensure all reporting is done properly, although due to the circumstances of the fire, we have asked for and received a filing extension for our taxes.
We are a group of dedicated volunteers that want nothing more than for Sweetpea to get back on its feet. If there is anything more that you suggest that we should do to improve communication and keep or restore your faith in us, please let us know. In conclusion, our situation is not what we want it to be, nor where we expected it to be 16 months after the fire, but we continue to fight for the rebuild. We hope the hurdles with the town can be resolved soon so that rebuild can begin, and that we still have our greatest asset, you, our supporters, through it all. Thank you for your continued support and belief in Sweetpea.