BRANFORD — If Laura Burban had just one wish this holiday season, it would be to meet the fundraising goal to build the new Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter.
The shelter agreed to raise $1 million toward the project.
With local approvals in hand to expand and improve the animal shelter, at 749 E. Main St., Branford — and some $865,000 in private donations already raised — the shelter’s board and its legion of supporters are looking for the public’s help to raise the final $135,000 toward a $1 million goal.
To contribute, visit cosgrovesavinglives.org.
Burban, Dan Cosgrove Shelter director, said she is thrilled the organization has raised so much thusfar.
“That’s exciting, considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
In September, the Representative Town Meeting approved a $2.85 million plan to renovate and expand the shelter, which will double in size from 2,600 square feet to more than 5,000 square feet. It will include separate entrances for animals, staff and veterinarians and the visiting and adopting public.
The plans include the creation of The Walk of Adoption.
“When people are back there, people can contemplate when they are ready for all of this, what it takes to adopt an animal,” Burban said. “It will give people a place to go think.”
The objective is to break ground in the spring and have the building completed and occupied by the end of 2021. While the project is under construction, the shelter’s work may continue at the former senior center at the Canoe Brook Center, 11 Cherry Hill Road, Branford.
“This fundraising event is so important because it’s only going to happen once,” Burban said. “We’re going to raise the money, then the building is going to be built. But it’s going to impact animals and people for decades.
“We want as many people to participate and feel like they had a part in it, as possible, so that when people look back on it, whether you live in Old Saybrook or you live in Fairfield, you say, ‘I helped. I helped to make this happen. I helped to save lives.’ ”
The shelter is physically located in Branford and tasked with serving Branford and North Branford, yet, Burban explained, its reach goes far beyond these borders.
“We help pretty much anybody, anywhere, across our state and when our partners, like in Texas, had the hurricanes, we helped them, too,” she said.
“We help where we can help and people donate to make these things happen. Even though we’re located here in Branford, we try to help as many animals and people that we can.”
Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove said that the staff and volunteers have earned the respect of people far beyond the borders of Branford and North Branford.
“That’s due primarily to the efforts that they have of caring for animals and the education of responsible pet ownership,” he said.
“When you look at a municipal shelter, that goes beyond what a municipal shelter provides. Those efforts are only possible because of the support they have been able to cultivate over the years from the community.”
Likewise, Burban stressed that the shelter comes to the aid of a multitude of different animals. A visit to the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Facebook gives insight into all the different animals the shelter serves, from birds, to rabbits, ducks, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, chinchillas, musketeer ferrets to possums.
The director explained that fundraising in the time of COVID is very different. While usually the public has a very intimate relationship with the shelter, all communication has been socially distanced.
“Normally we’re very public,” she said. “We do events where people can come and we have all sorts of announcements on Facebook about what’s going on.
“We really haven’t been able to do that because we really haven’t had any events to update people to what’s going on. It’s definitely been a challenge.”
She talked about how hard it is not being able to meet and talk to people face to face and how important it is for community members to see, firsthand, the work of the shelter.
“They get to come and participate at the event, they get to see photos and sometimes even get to meet the animals that they are impacting,” she said. “So, there’s just a lot of excitement, it’s like a groundswell, and it builds and it builds.”
Burban talked about the importance of the work of the shelter.
“I honestly believe that what we do changes the world,” she said. “I believe that in the small ways that you are able to change the world it is your responsibility to do that.
“I just believe the more that you can do and the more good that you can put out there, the more that it comes back and makes the planet a better place to be.”
She stressed that she is “over the top excited” about the new building.
“I truly believe in what we do here and I truly believe in the impact we have and knowing that animals don’t understand imaginary borders that we humans make in place to separate towns and communities,” she said.
“This is going to far exceed Branford and North Branford. This will impact so many communities and so many people and so many animals, so it’s over the top exciting.”
Cosgrove talked about the importance of the shelter’s work.
“They really have set the standard, raised the bar significantly,” he said. “It’s more than just a shelter; it’s about educating a community.
“They are doing animal control, but they’re also ensuring for making proper decisions and outreach for adoption for a better chance of success for pet owners and the pets, themselves.”
Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, 749 E. Main St., Branford, 203-315-4125; branford-ct.gov/departments/animal-shelter; cosgrovesavinglives.org; Facebook Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter; TikTok @cosgroveshelter