New Humane Society Groundbreaking Showcases PVM Cooperation with Local Communities for Service Learning

Monday, June 19, 2023

Make a Gift
Support the College

The group uses pooper scoopers to toss ceremonial dirt as Nora Bones digs to break ground on the new facility
Dignitaries from Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County governments, Purdue University, and Humane Society for Greater Lafayette board members, project donors, and a dog named Nora Bones, gathered to officially break ground for a new local animal shelter May 2.

Described as an exciting day for Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and everyone who cares about companion animals, May 2 marked the official groundbreaking for a new animal shelter that reflects a cooperative effort between local governments, the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette and the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. PVM Dean Willie Reed was invited to participate in the ceremony and praised the collaboration that led to this milestone. 

Dean Reed kneels leaning on his ceremonial pooper scooper beside Nora Bones and her owner
PVM Dean Willie Reed with the official groundbreaking ceremony canine, Nora Bones, and her owner, Humane Society board member Abby Neely. (Gary Higgins photo)

Located at the site of the former Purdue Tippecanoe County Extension Office at 3150 Sagamore Parkway South, the new facility will serve as the home of the recently established Humane Society for Greater Lafayette as well as local animal control services. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski began the ceremony by saying this is a very important project for the community. “It’s another wonderful example of collaboration between Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, people in the animal world, and Purdue University,” the mayor said. “I’m just so proud to be from this community where people continually work together to get good things done for the community even when they’re difficult. And this one has had its challenges getting to this point today, but we are here. And so I think it’s going to mean a lot for the animals in our community, the citizens in our community, and I think it certainly sends the right message.”

Dean Reed then was invited to the podium and echoed the mayor’s sentiments. “I’m just pleased to be part of this celebration, and also so pleased to be invited to be a partner in this very, very worthy effort for our community,” Dean Reed said. “This new home for the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette holds great promise for helping homeless animals in our communities. And I don’t need to tell this audience that the plight of homeless animals is a big deal, not just in our community, but throughout the country. Unfortunately as many as eight million animals end up in shelters each year. And so it’s nice to see a community like ours addressing the situation here locally.”

Dean Reed then recalled when Mayor Roswarski, Mayor John Dennis of West Lafayette, and County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh came to see him and members of his leadership team a few months ago to describe the project. “I thought to myself, we have to be part of this. A university with a college of veterinary medicine, in this community, and there’s a new animal shelter – how could we not be a part of it?”

Sharon Dull speaks from the podium during the outdoor ceremony
Humane Society for Greater Lafayette Board President Sharon Dull was recognized as the fearless leader championing the project.

Dean Reed went on to recap how the college established a shelter medicine program in 2009 to educate students about providing veterinary medical care to shelter animals, and then expanded the program a few years later by creating Priority 4 Paws, which utilized a mobile surgery unit to visit partner animal shelters within a 60 mile radius of the college. “So now right here in our ‘back yard,’ we are going to have a wonderful facility and our students are going to come here and practice shelter medicine with our faculty. They’re going to enhance their surgical skills and they’re going to prepare these animals for adoption so they can become pets in wonderful homes and patients of the veterinarians in our communities.” He continued by asking, “Can you think of a better situation? Isn’t that a win-win for everyone?” A rousing round of applause provided the answer.

Attended by local elected officials, members of the Humane Society Board of Directors, and donors to the project, the groundbreaking ceremony took place adjacent to the vacant former county extension office building. Other speakers included Commissioner Murtaugh, West Lafayette City Clerk Sana Booker, and the person identified by Mayor Roswarski as the fearless leader of the project, Humane Society for Greater Lafayette Board President Sharon Dull. “Our new state-of-the-art animal shelter combines Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County Animal Control,” Dull explained. “We have a highly visible and easily accessible location, and we’ll offer safe harbor for lost animals until they can be reunited with their families, or a forever home can be found. We will welcome our community to an upbeat atmosphere where you might find a companion to love.” 

Plans for the new 17,000 square foot facility include 67 indoor/outdoor dog runs, nearly 157 two-compartment cat kennels, outdoor fenced areas for the dogs to play on grass and exercise, and kitty condos for the cats. Dull said other planned features include a high tech HVAC system that will help combat cross contamination, an isolation area for sick animals, and a medical suite where shelter animals can receive needed spay and neuter surgeries and other medical treatments. A classroom space will support educational programs. Dull also said there will be a wealth of volunteer opportunities for the community and there are spaces available to be named by donors.

Following the remarks, the moment everyone was waiting for arrived, as Mayor Roswarski called all the dignitaries and donors in attendance forward for the ceremonial groundbreaking, performed with “pooper scoopers” as the official canine participant led the process. On the count of three, Nora Bones, a Great Pyrenees owned by Humane Society for Greater Lafayette board member Abby Neely, stepped into a box of dirt and began digging, after which all the dignitaries used their scoopers to collect a clump of topsoil and pose for a commemorative photo.

The goal is to have the facility completed and ready for a ribbon cutting ceremony by Summer 2024. Local governments have committed $5 million to the project and a fundraising campaign is underway to raise an additional $1.5 million.

rendering of the exterior of the proposed animal shelter facility
Artist rendering of the proposed new animal shelter. (Courtesy of Shelter Planners of America)

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, 765-494-7607

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by PVM Web Communications

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact PVM Web Communications at