FAQs about closing our St. Paul shelter

Why is AHS closing its current St. Paul shelter?

The changes required to make our 70-year-old St. Paul shelter safe and functional under COVID-19 are not feasible given the building’s remaining useful life. Medical services at that site are delivered on a mobile surgery truck that cannot support safe physical distancing. Likewise, the building itself has narrow hallways and cramped areas that don’t support physical distancing for employees, volunteers or customers. It also requires costly HVAC and other capital repairs.

In truth, the St. Paul shelter had become functionally obsolete even before COVID-19 struck, and we’ve been actively working on a plan to replace it for several years. We can no longer wait. After extensive analysis, we are confident that, as a temporary measure, we can more safely and effectively meet the needs of animals and people in our community by shifting programs and resources to our other Twin Cities locations. 

When will the St. Paul shelter close?

The St. Paul shelter has been closed to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Today’s decision makes that temporary closure permanent for the current St. Paul location.

Is AHS in financial trouble?

No. While the decisions we are announcing today are driven by the economic and public health impact of COVID-19, we believe taking these difficult steps now will allow us to successfully adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 and embrace new opportunities to innovate and advance our mission. Despite these challenges, we know our future is still bright. Animal Humane Society remains financially secure thanks to the strong support of our community and the dedication of our remarkable team. 

Will AHS continue to provide services in St. Paul? Will AHS build a new St. Paul shelter?

Yes. 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. In September, we will open our new full-service veterinary center at our University Avenue location in St. Paul, expanding access to training, education, and affordable veterinary care to even more Twin Cities residents. This new location allows us to offer services that were not previously available in St. Paul and will provide new options for the community.

In addition, we’re in the early stages of a capital campaign to support the construction of a new adoption and animal care campus that will allow us to shift services back to St Paul. Today’s decision will bring new urgency to that effort.

How is COVID-19 affecting other programs and services?

Earlier this year, we took decisive action to ensure that we could safely and responsibly meet the needs of animals and people in our community. Since then, we have been working to reimagine and redesign our programs and services so they can be delivered safely, strictly adhering to the latest guidelines from the CDC and other state and federal agencies. We’ve taken these steps to protect our staff, volunteers, and community, knowing that COVID-19 will continue to impact our work into 2021 and beyond.

Today 231 of 339 AHS staff have returned to work, and we are safely offering adoption, intake, veterinary care, training, education, and other services at our sites in Golden Valley, Woodbury, and Coon Rapids. You can learn more about the status of our services here.

How are AHS staff impacted by this decision?

Unfortunately, four people in leadership positions at the St. Paul shelter have been laid off with severance as a result of this change. Nineteen other AHS employees who worked in St. Paul will remain furloughed. Our goal is to call them back to fill openings at other sites as they become available. We shared this information with them earlier today.

How are AHS volunteers impacted by this decision?

We hope that our St. Paul volunteers will continue their support at another AHS location. We will be contacting each St. Paul volunteer to extend a personal invitation. 

What will happen to the St. Paul shelter?

Although AHS owns the St. Paul shelter and its contents, the building sits on land leased from the city of St. Paul. The building will revert to the city when our lease expires at the end of 2020. AHS will reuse the furnishings and equipment at its other locations or donate them to other animal welfare organizations.

Where can I adopt or surrender an animal after the St. Paul shelter closes?

You can adopt or surrender an animal at our locations in Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, and Woodbury. Learn more here.

Does this mean AHS will take in and care for fewer animals?

No. After extensive analysis, we are confident that we can continue to safely and effectively meet the needs of animals and people in our community by shifting programs and resources to our other Twin Cities locations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve been taking in and caring for local animals only. When it is safe to resume our transport program, we will care for approximately 2,500 fewer transported animals in our three operating shelters. We will partner with other animal welfare agencies to ensure an even greater number of animals can be transported and receive services. A recent grant from the Rachel Ray Foundation will help us support this effort.

What if people unaware of the closing drop off animals at the St. Paul shelter?

The St. Paul shelter has been closed to the public since March 20. Signage on site directs community members to alternative shelters, including other AHS locations. We are also reaching out to recent adopters, service users, and community veterinarians to ensure that they are aware of this change. 

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline