After 14 months of work and thousands of dollars of donations, the Whitman County Humane Society in Pullman completed the new Lauren McCluskey Cat Wing, named after the former Pullman High School student-athlete.
The cat wing is an expanded space dedicated to housing the felines available for adoption. WCHS board member Kylene Daschofsky said it includes six new kennels, 400 additional square feet of space and a new room for prospective cat owners to interact with the animals before adopting them.
Additionally, the WCHS expanded its kitchen, where pet food is stored and where cats receive needed medicines.
The cat wing opened Saturday, and a dedication ceremony will take place Oct. 5 as part of the events scheduled for the Lauren McCluskey Race for Campus Safety.
Lauren McCluskey, a former standout student-athlete at Pullman High School, was murdered at age 21 on the University of Utah campus in October.
While growing up in Pullman, she volunteered at the Whitman County Humane Society and owned two cats of her own.
Her parents, Matt and Jill McCluskey, heard about the shelter’s efforts to build a new cat wing last year and offered to help raise donations for the project in honor of their daughter.
Daschofsky said until the McCluskeys offered their help, it was unclear if the project would receive enough funds to finish. Once donations started to come in, however, the plan became a reality. Fourteen months since the facility was first in the design stage, the cat wing is now open and fully funded by donations.
Daschofsky and Matt McCluskey both said the amount of donations was somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000.
“We’re delighted that it is open and that it such a great facility,” Matt McCluskey said.
Before this new facility, Daschofsky said, the space for cats was cramped for both the animals and the people who visited. The old space was about 300 square feet and could only fit six cat kennels. She said the uncomfortably small space would dissuade people from coming in to look at the cats.
“It was crazy packed,” Daschofsky said.
The new cat wing has more “breathing room,” she said, and features a meet-and-greet room where people can hold the cats or let them roam around while they decide whether to adopt. She estimated the shelter has about 18 cats at the facility.
The new kennels are bigger and approved by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Daschofsky said.
“They provide adequate amount of space for cats to live a healthy life at the shelter while waiting to be adopted,” she said.
Daschofsky said the project has been worth the months of construction so that people can feel more comfortable adopting cats.
“They can actually use the space in the way it was intended,” she said.
The dedication of the Lauren McCluskey Cat Wing will take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 5. At 9 a.m. that day, the Lauren McCluskey 5K Race for Campus Safety will start at Mary’s Park on Johnson Avenue. There will also be a dinner at 6 p.m. at the Banyan’s Event Center in Pullman.
Proceeds will benefit the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which supports campus safety, amateur athletics and animal welfare. Tickets are sold at laurenmccluskey.org.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.