A new animal shelter is opening in Cedar Rapids today, more than five years after flooding destroyed the previous facility. Program manager Diane Webber says, after several years in a temporary space, it’s a relief to finally have a permanent home. “It’s a dream come true for all of us, actually,” Webber says.

Shelter staff worked throughout the weekend to unpack and move 160 animals from the temporary space to the new shelter on the Kirkwood Community College campus. Webber says it’s the first time the city has had a shelter specifically designed to house animals – especially important when the animals are sick and need to be separated. “The kennels also have solid walls, so they’re not cross-contaminating through the chain link,” Webber says. “A lot of thought has gone into making this the best possible scenario for the animals.”

The $4.5 million project was funded by a FEMA grant and money from the city’s local option sales tax. In 2008, Webber was a disaster responder called in by the Humane Society to take care of hundreds of animals left homeless by the flood in Cedar Rapids. “At one point, I remember one day that we had, on hand, over 700 animals,” Webber said.

Shelter staff are still unpacking at the new facility, so Webber is asking a favor of visitors to the Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control Center. “If you’re going to visit the shelter, please be patient with us because we’re still trying to get organized and adjusted,” Webber said.