We are rebuilding after the fire that destroyed our shelter building
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!
We are a 501(c)(3) EIN 04-3550699