Groundbreaking Ceremony

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.  There is a saying that it hasn’t happened until you see the photos, so here are the photos!

The Board of Directors celebrating groundbreaking for the new shelter.
The board and officers, left to right: Samantha Clark, Bonnie Courtemanche, Melanie Kenadek, Deborah Young, Richard Clark, Jennifer Parisi, Gabrielle Savage, Kelly Robinson, Mary Clark.
The Building Committee Celebrating Ground Breaking for the new shelter.
The Building Committee, left to right: Mary Clark, Bonnie Courtemanche, Melanie Kenadek, Dick Clark, Tom Savage, Jim Parisi. (Missing is Brian Bowman).
Our younger volunteers celebrate groundbreaking.
Jennifer, Samantha and Dick stand with two of our younger volunteers, Sarena Kenadek and Ashley Hutchings.


Older Rebuilding News

Jan 19 2018: We now have permission to demolish the previous shelter building and demolition has started – here is Dick Clark, our founder and Chairman, surveying the demolition work!
We hope to start construction of our new shelter within a few weeks (depending on snow conditions and weather).

Our Variance and Special Permit were approved at the Zoning Board meeting and we have been granted a Permit to Rebuild our Shelter! 🙂
This photo shows a few Happy Sweetpea Faces – Thank you to all the Volunteers, Neighbors and Paxton residents, supporters and Town Officials, for your support!

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5-0 on Oct. 19 to grant a special permit to Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals, Inc., to reopen, and voted 4-1 to grant a variance for the setback from the road. The setback variance was required because the existing buildings are too close to the property line, as the building was built before the zoning law was enacted.


💖 SWEETPEA STRONG! We are so thankful to all of you for your ongoing support!

Background for Rebuild & Reorganization

Town & Zoning Updates:

Our animal shelter and the boarding kennels were closed while we obtained permits, and renew licenses.

Demolition – there were some legal issues with removing the fire-damaged building; sorting these out delayed our ability to rebuild fast – as did sorting our zoning issues.

The previous Sweetpea Board proposed a larger shelter building – this concerned the town because the site is less than 5 acres (only 3.5). But even using the previous shelter footprint, we needed a zoning variance because we do not have 150 ft. setback from the road. This has now been granted.

We also needed to investigate what type of surveillance system we would need when we rebuild. Cameras installed can be accessed from home but due to privacy panels it’s impossible to see all pens – this was discussed with the security company and we are following the issue up with the town.

Fire & Rebuild History

For years it has been our ambition to buy or construct a rescue shelter, as the Rutland/Paxton area has no animal rescue shelter. After years of fundraising, we took out a mortgage on a boarding kennels on Pleasant St., on the border of Rutland and Paxton. We took possession in Fall of 2015 and we were renovating the shelter building, when we suffered a disastrous fire on Sunday 11/22/2015, most likely caused by an electrical fault. Our main animal shelter building was destroyed and we lost the lives of many cats and dogs. Six dogs and a cat were recovered and adopted out, after the fire.

Our main animal shelter building was destroyed by a fire on 11/22/2015, most likely caused by an electrical fault.We can’t replace the animals who perished in the fire – our lost fur-babies will always be in our hearts and our memories, but we can continue to rescue animals as we move on and rebuild.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us in these difficult times – and thank you for the outpouring of generous donations. The response to our disaster has been heartwarming and overwhelming.

Initial Rebuilding Plans

The first set of rebuilding plans were put on hold, as the previous Sweetpea Board failed to apply to Paxton for permission to rebuild and then submitted a shelter plan which the town felt was too large for a shared commercial/residential zone.  Our new Board of Directors has worked closely with the town, to ensure a feasible rebuilding plan.

Sweetpea would like to thank everyone for their quick support and for their ability to come together as a community in order to help us. We wish to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of sympathy and practical help that we have received. We have a long way to go, but we will rebuild.