SALEM, N.H. — Change is inevitable for the Salem Animal Rescue League, with drastic construction needed before winter and town officials allowing the charity only two more years at its longtime site.
Heavy equipment arrived at SARL Drive this week to demolish two existing trailers — one used to house cats and the other for veterinary services. New units are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.
Still, a slim shelter staff and volunteers are making an effort to celebrate SARL’s 30th anniversary with an emphasis on fundraising.
A celebration is planned for Dec. 10 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Castleton Banquet and Conference Center, at 58 Enterprise Drive, Windham. Wine tasting, festivities, dancing and auctions are planned for the night.
SARL Executive Director Jinelle Hobson explained that any support is appreciated, especially at what is hoped to be the group’s biggest event of the year.
“We’re celebrating 30 years here in January. This has been our only site. SARL was handed the keys in 1992,” she said.
Buildings have been added over the years, but those initial trailers — purchased with a goal of housing 50 stray and unwanted animals — are drastically worn.
During its inaugural year, SARL rescued a total of 157 animals. Momentum has only built from there, nearing 800 dogs and cats taken in from across the country each year.
“We don’t have a crystal ball for winter,” Hobson explained of the impending tough time of year. “Those existing structures become so expensive to maintain depending on what winter could bring. We could lose a roof, and there are existing HVAC issues. The mobile units aren’t meant to withstand this many years.”
In preparation for the replacements, Hobson and SARL’s 10 employees welcomed about 30 members of the Salem High School football team to move adoptable cats to their temporary home — in the former dog trailer.
That space has been vacant since early this year partly because of disruptive construction nearby at the town’s former contaminated wastewater treatment plant.
“There have been staffing issues, too” Hobson said, emphasizing the important role of volunteers, including as of late the student-athletes.
She added, “We’re planning to get all of this wrapped up and welcome canines again starting in January.”
Once work is done at the neighboring property, town officials are likely to sell it along with the SARL site, which is also on the town’s tax roll.
Hobson hopes to secure a new location in Salem, where she says there are deep ties to the community.
Tickets for the upcoming fundraiser can be purchased online sarlnh.org.