Animal Humane Society shelter in St. Paul will not reopen after closing due to COVID-19

The Animal Humane Society shelter in St. Paul will not reopen, the organization announced Monday.

According to a release from AHS, the changes required to make the current St. Paul shelter safe and functional under COVID-19 restrictions are "not feasible given the building’s remaining useful life."

The organization wrote that "the 70-year-old building has narrow hallways and cramped areas that don’t support physical distancing for employees, volunteers, or customers. Medical services at that site are delivered on a mobile surgery truck that also cannot support safe physical distancing. The building also requires costly HVAC and other costly improvements."

AHS also wrote that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter had become "functionally obsolete."

Four people at the shelter will be laid off with severence, and 19 other AHS employees who worked in St. Paul will remain furloughed. The group will temporarily shift programs and resources to the other Twin Cities locations.

“We know our home in St. Paul holds a special place in the hearts of our community – and we remain committed to the city where we were founded more than 140 years ago,” said AHS President and CEO Janelle Dixon.

According to the release, AHS will open a new full-service veterinary center at its University Avenue location in September.

The organization is also in the early stages of a capital campaign to support the construction of a new adoption and animal care campus. When it opens, that new facility will allow AHS to shift services back to St Paul. 

The impact of COVID-19 has also created challenges for Now Boarding, the AHS’ for-profit boarding subsidiary in South Minneapolis. Dixon announced Monday that Now Boarding will suspend its operations for the foreseeable future on July 15. 31 positions at Now Boarding will be eliminated as a result. 

Now Boarding operates under a lease agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), and the Now Boarding board and senior leaders are currently working with MAC to determine if there are any workable options for resuming operations when the current crisis ends.