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Pet Rescue by Judy erects new million-dollar animal shelter in Sanford

Nonprofit rescue group says the project was built almost entirely on community donations



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Cash donations still trickle in, small and large, mostly generated from adoptive pet parents visiting the Save the Tails site, but the project still needs at least one more major donor to stay on track for an October opening. Because Sarullo must also keep her current facility in Sanford up and running until the new one is completed, money is tight and bill payments are sometimes delayed.

“You know, we watch every penny, but there are only so many pennies to go around,” Sarullo says.

Principal among Sarullo’s biggest priorities, in terms of elevating the quality of life at her new shelter, lies directly underfoot: the floor. Most people wouldn’t think twice about differentiating one concrete floor from another, but Sarullo insists that the surface must be done right, and that meant first laying a new concrete foundation.

“There were two things [Judy] said to me when I first started,” Elliott-Rink says. “One was, ‘I will not compromise on the fire suppression – I don’t care what it costs – I’m gonna have those animals protected.’ And, ‘I’m not going to compromise on the floor.’”

“Thousands of animals will go through it, that’s why the floors are so imperative, because my floor right now is disgusting,” Sarullo says. “We can’t make that mistake. It’s got to be something that’s going to last, not have any disease and have a nice atmosphere for when people walk in.”

Now that the concrete is down, Sarullo says the shelter needs hospital-quality sealant to coat it. It must be able to withstand daily sanitizing without deteriorating, which is a problem with more pedestrian sealants. Elliott-Rink has consulted with HuntonBrady Architects, who designed the new 15-story tower at Florida Hospital, to see what they can come up with, and she’s optimistic they’ll find the right sealant for the job. She’s less certain how to pay for it.

Likewise, Sarullo requires the installation of a quality fire-suppression system, which she insists upon after witnessing the aftermath of a deadly blaze that swept through the Seminole County Animal Services shelter in 2007. A faulty extension cord caused a fire that killed 32 cats and seven dogs. Rather than have something like that happen at her shelter, Sarullo says she’ll tack another $21,000 onto the project’s cost to ensure that the animals she houses are protected.

Pet Rescue by Judy’s new shelter will also have soundproof walls separating the cats from the dogs, to reduce stress from foreign sounds not associated with sights. There will be a conference room where Sarullo can educate visitors and consult with vet techs and clients. An open room with high ceilings and broad windows will give the cats spaces to perch and lounge in ways they can’t in their current shelter environments. The construction crews, Sarullo says, have made suggestions for small improvements for the animals as well. Because this is a volunteer-based project, the sense of ownership and accomplishment already feels shared between Sarullo, the volunteers and the workers.

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