P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center (formerly known as the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League) is embarking on a capital campaign to raise money to build an addition to the existing shelter on Camden Street and a dog park adjacent to the shelter facility.

For more than 35 years the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, a no-kill animal shelter, has been a refuge for stray, lost or abandoned dogs and cats waiting to be adopted in the Midcoast.

“Originally the organization, established in 1974, contracted with the towns of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Islesboro,” said Jean Freedman-White, board president, in a news release. “In the last couple of years we have added towns to our service roster and we now serve eight communities — Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Islesboro, Searsmont, Northport, Liberty and the city of Belfast. The name change to P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center better reflects our mission, finding adoptive homes for our animals and is area generic. We believe Pets Are Worth Saving hence P.A.W.S. in our new name.”

The organization adopted a new logo designed by P.A.W.S board member Joe Ryan of Adventure Advertising.

“In addition to being too small to accept all the stray and relinquished dogs and cats we are now receiving our current building does not have all the necessary up-to-date facilities to adequately provide for the animals we have for adoption, nor a welcoming space for those people coming in to adopt,” Freedman-White said.

“So, we are embarking on a $1,000,000 capital campaign to raise money to build an addition to the shelter, to renovate our current building and develop a dog park. We recently purchased two acres of land adjacent to our facility to accommodate the dog park and new building. The dog park, which will have separate areas for small and large dogs, will be open to the public free of charge from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week,” Freedman-White said.

Camden architect Joseph Russillo, working with one of the shelter’s vice presidents, architect John Scholz, created the design for the new building and renovation of the existing facility.

“The addition and redesigned building will allow us to improve how we take care of the animals through better design and adequate space,” Freedman-White said. “These changes also will enhance the air quality and degree of medical care we can provide and give us additional storage space, space for employees to eat and store their belongings and space for meetings and clinics, none of which we currently have.”

The 4,000-square-foot addition will encompass a wing containing 16 dog kennels, a meet/greet and dog socialization room, isolation area, laundry, and a laboratory. A connecting wing will contain the lobby, administrative offices, and a public restroom. Below this area will be a staff/multipurpose room, kitchenette and bathroom.

The current 3,000-square-foot building will be converted into individual spaces for 76 cats, contain a meet/greet and socialization cat room, an isolation area, laboratory, laundry, and kitchenette facilities. The new design of the cat area will enable staff to clean the facility throughout the day rather than between the hours of 8 and 11 a.m. before the shelter opens. In addition, shelter personnel will have more one-on-one contact with the cats that are now housed about a dozen or so to a room.

A new air handling system will be installed throughout the building that will eliminate, along with the new isolation rooms, the spread of infections that have caused the shelter to close twice in the last two years. And, the new system will uniformly warm and cool the entire facility, according to shelter manager Laura Stupca.

The new construction and renovations will also provide needed storage space that will enable the organization to save money by purchasing food, cleaning and office supplies in bulk.

“We plan to institute various on-site educational programs focusing on animal care, training, and obedience,” said administrative director Lisa Dresser. “We also will have space for holding health clinics in the new building. Some of the giving opportunities will include contributing to the cost of the individual buildings, administrative offices, kitchenettes, laundry rooms, kennels, cat cages, furnishings, gardens, or dog park fencing. We are going to set up a program where donors can donate toward the cost of a section of chain link fence in the dog park.”

Since its inception the shelter has been a repository for hundreds of stray cats and dogs and has brought together hundreds of families who have adopted them. The need to expand the shelter’s area to serve the eight communities is increasing.

“The joy of seeing an animal leave our facility and going to a loving home is very rewarding and the new expansion will allow more families to adopt more deserving animals,” Stupca said.

P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center operates with a staff of two salaried, one full-time and five part-time employees and a 14-member board representing the towns it serves. It is funded through private donations and municipal fees. P.A.W.S. also holds several fundraising events throughout the year including a winter dance, a Mutt Walk, Car & Dog Wash and an annual Christmas season auction. More than a dozen volunteers walk dogs every week and take kittens to area banks to meet the public. During the spring, summer and fall, shelter volunteers solicit donations in front of French & Brawn.

P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center, located at 146 Camden St. in Rockport, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit PAWSAdoption.org or call the shelter at 236-8702.