The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, which has been helping find homes for stray and abandoned dogs and cats since 1974, will soon embark on a major capital plan. At the same time, the organization announced that it had received a significant donation from Richard Wells McCabe of Sagaponack.
The capital project will entail a complete makeover of the reception area at ARF’s Wainscott campus into the Richard Wells McCabe Welcome Center, as well as the construction of new kennels and an indoor training facility for dogs, completely renovated catteries, and major upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
“This is a project ARF has been working on for eight years,” said Executive Director Scott Howe, who added that it will cost an estimated $7 million.
The project is currently before the East Hampton Town Planning Board.
Mr. McCabe has requested that the size of his gift not be disclosed. In a press release, ARF described it as a “transformational gift” and one of the largest in ARF’s 46-year history.
Mr. Howe said the donation will actually go to ARF’s endowment and be used to help defray ongoing operational expenses. Another anonymous gift has allowed ARF to move forward with the construction plans, he added.
“Mr. McCabe’s generosity to ARF will have a lasting legacy, in both the life of our organization and in the lives of thousands of animals and their families who will meet one another for the first time here,” he said in a release. “His gift will be a catalyst, allowing us to expand our capacity to help families in need through difficult times of economic hardship, keeping pets in homes and out of shelters. His love for our community will enrich the lives of families and their pets for years to come, and I’m honored to be part of this watershed moment in ARF’s history.”
“Being a dog owner has given me the most pleasure in life. I can’t imagine living without a dog,” Mr. McCabe said in the release. “It makes me very happy to be supporting ARF like this.”
The project is being designed by the Bacon Group, a Clearwater, Florida, architectural firm that has experience in designing animal shelters
“We are going to replace the dog kennels and start over,” Mr. Howe said. “They are the oldest part of the building and were opened to the public in 1985.” He said the new kennels would be designed to reduce noise, be easier to clean, and have air conditioning as well as heat.
“It’s not just going to be air conditioning, but a heating and cooling system designed for animal shelters that will bring in fresh air and include filters to help prevent airborne diseases,” he said. “The irony is we are doing all this HVAC work now that is good for the animals, but it is the same kind of air system you’d want in any building for COVID-19.”
ARF’s catteries will also be rebuilt to make them more comfortable for their feline occupants.
Another major part of the work will be the construction of a new indoor training facility. It will have roll-up garage doors to provide fresh air in good weather and lighting to allow training classes to be held in the evening during the winter months.
The lobby, where visitors get their introduction to ARF and are given their adopted animals, will also be completely redesigned as part of the project.
Mr. Howe said it was too early to provide a deadline for when the project will be completed, saying ARF has been working with town planners to gain approval in a timely fashion.
“We are not looking to get bigger, we are looking to get better,” he said of the project that will largely result in replacing existing structures on the site.
He said there would still be many ways for members of the community to help ARF reach its fundraising goals and added he hoped a ceremonial groundbreaking could be held this fall.