Caloosa Humane Society re-opens with bigger future plans

An artist rendering of a planned expansion of the Caloosa Humane Society. (Submitted photo)

The Caloosa Humane Society shelter is planning to re-open this week. Roof damage from the hurricane caused water to leak inside the shelter, all their animals had to be evacuated. But they have bigger plans than just re-opening; they are looking to start a new facility where both the shelter and clinic will be brought together.

I meet Alex DeStefano, executive director of the Caloosa Humane Society, at the shelter. Workers are walking in and out trying to get the place back up and running. Alex says it shouldn’t be much longer before they re-open: “We will be bringing dogs back in this week and the cats will follow shortly after that. We will be getting 80 animals back in at one time, which means we are in dire need of volunteers. At the moment we have three or four employees at the shelter at any given time. More volunteers would mean more one on one time with the animals”, says Alex.

Alex DeStefano, executive director of the Caloosa Humane Society. (Submitted photo/Tara Hicks)

“We are slowly going back to working with adoptions through our veterinary clinic, which wasn’t damaged as bad as we were”, he says as he gives me a tour of the damaged shelter. Ida Erwin, one of the shelter managers, adds that they have made a lot of progress since last week: “The smell at first was unbearable, it was like holding a dirty dish sponge very close to your nose!”

Rick Overberg, Vice-President of the Caloosa Humane Society explains that they have outgrown their current shelter: “It is old and the costs for maintenance are getting higher and higher, plus there is no room for expansion at our current location. Bringing the two sections together means more efficiency for us and it will be easier for the public, plus more room for the animals!”

“The clinic and the shelter are only a few blocks from each other”, adds Alex, “but when an animal has to go to the clinic, we still have to load it into a van and drive it there, and that can be a hassle.”

Rick goes on: “Earlier in the year the county commissioners gave us two acres of a very nice piece of land which we have on a thirty-year longterm lease. The land is actually shaped a bit funny so Alex and I started brainstorming on how to best fit the building on the property. We decided to split the structure up into three different buildings and the plans look absolutely beautiful (see picture below). As soon as we have our budget put together we will launch our official capital campaign to start raising funds for our new project. We are very excited to get the ball rolling!”

For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the Caloosa Humane Society, visit:

Geoffrey Ionescu can be reached at

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