MEOW Foundation is celebrating five years at our Adoption Centre this month! We’re so grateful for this space that has allowed us to house thousands of homeless Calgary cats while they wait for their forever home.
MEOW was founded all the way back in the year 2000 with the mandate of helping Calgary’s stray and abandoned cats. For our first 17 years, we operated out of a rented bungalow in the northwest Calgary community of Highland Park. While we were (and still are!) so grateful to have this space for the many cats that needed us, the house obviously had some limitations – plus it wasn’t zoned to be an animal rescue. Luckily we had great relationships with our neighbours and the house worked for us for many years.
However, we always knew that eventually we would need something bigger. In fact, we started planning and budgeting to buy our own building all the way back in 2010! The house simply didn’t have the space we needed to store all our kennels, traps and other necessary equipment. We made do thanks to generous volunteers who donated space in their garage, but we knew we needed a more permanent solution.
Our dream was a building that could have a proper intake area, offices for staff, more space for our cats, storage space for equipment and advanced HVAC to minimize the potential spread of illness among cats. With these criteria in mind, we purchased what is now the Adoption Centre in northeast Calgary in 2014. We were elated to have secured a space of our own, but it wasn’t as simple as buying and just moving in!
Debbie Nelson, our Operations Manager, says there were “challenges related to finding a building in an industrial area and then the permitting required from the city to be designated as a kennel.” It was also a challenge also to find a building with natural light – a must-have for our cats – and that did not require a full interior demolition. Lastly, we of course needed significant funds for a fulsome renovation, including replacing the HVAC system and getting various building elements up to code. So, MEOW set out to raise half a million dollars – no small feat at the best of times, but even more daunting given that Calgary was in the midst of an economic downturn. But through large-scale campaigns, small garage sales and everything in between, we got the funds we needed.
With our permits in place and funds in hand thanks to our generous donors, we could finally get to work. MEOW engaged with several architect firms who had experience in building and designing animal facilities, including shelters. We ended up working with BCW Architects – our primary contact there was a cat lover, which was a great fit! Construction started in October 2016.
We can’t express our gratitude enough to everyone who has helped us to where we are today! We’re grateful to be able to continue and expand our life-saving work of Making Each One Wanted.