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Sonsini Animal Shelter Reopening at New Location This Weekend
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:00AM / Friday, June 01, 2018
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A former warehouse on Crane Avenue has been transformed into a small animal shelter.

The shelter has a few dogs already available for adoption and will accept surrenders once again. It can hold up to 10 big dogs at the new location.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter will open its doors at its new home on Saturday.
The shelter relocated to Crane Avenue after the city rescinded its contract to house stray dogs and forced it to leave the city-owned building in the Downing Industrial Business Park. For the last six weeks or so, shelter staff have been renovating a former warehouse owned by Dennis Miller into a shelter.
"It was a warehouse. It wasn't an animal shelter," Friends of Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter Inc. Chairwoman Krista Wroldson-Miller said.
The shelter has 10 new kennels for larger dogs, six cat crates, and a couple smaller kennels for small dogs. The no-kill shelter is typically known for its work with difficult to rehome dogs -- working with them and getting them adoptable.
"We're mostly not going to have strays anymore. We still have contracts with Dalton, Lanesborough, Hinsdale, and Hancock. We will still work with all of those places," Wroldson-Miller said.
Sonsini needed a place to go after the eviction from the city amidst ongoing drama and court battles within its leadership. During that time, Miller offered to lease a warehouse he had used for storage. He cleaned it out and the shelter purchased the new kennels, brought what it could from the former shelter, and went to task cleaning, painting, installing security, fencing, trimming and new flooring, and will be installing a new air conditioning unit. 
 "We're reusing some of the gates from the other shelter but it was logistically impossible to move kennels," Wroldson-Miller said.
The location also provides plenty of wooded areas for the dogs to be walked.
The organization moved the dogs in its possession in mid-April, when it closed at the former building and has been taking care of the animals on Crane Avenue while also working to spruce up the place.
"It was a huge transition for our animals. There are smaller kennels inside, we have to do a lot more work with them outside now," Wroldson-Miller said.
The Crane Avenue location is smaller than the Downing Industrial building but it is also only being eyed as a temporary home. The nonprofit shelter has launched a fundraising campaign looking to raise $750,000 so it can buy a piece of property and build a larger shelter.
"I am hoping to raise the money we need in a year but I know that is extremely ambitious," Wroldson-Miller said. "We don't have to be out in a year but I would like to raise it in a year so we can get some property, building a new shelter."
Moving past the leadership controversy, Sonsini is starting fairly fresh. It has a few dogs available for adoption right now and those looking to adopt can visit the shelter on weekend from noon until 5 and Tuesday through Fridays from noon until 6. Or, you can go online to see the dogs available and get the adoption paperwork.
"We still need volunteers. Anybody who's good at walking big strong dogs, we can absolutely use them at any time," Wroldson-Miller said.
Wroldson-Miller said the organization is down to just two volunteers who can walk dogs. She hopes more people will join the organization.
Anne Marie Jones is one of the most recent volunteers at the shelter. She said she had to surrender her dog about six months ago after having her child. She said she is grateful for the help Sonsini had given her in helping find her dog a new home and is now giving back to the organization.
"A lot of people don't realize just how much this place serves a need in the community. There are a lot of people who are down on their luck. There are a lot of people that one life transition happens and something has to shift," Jones said.
"It is hard to rehome your pet. It is hard to be honest and say things aren't going well and I can't do what I am normally able to do. That's a hard thing to do and they allow people the space to do that."
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