A ground breaking ceremony to signal the start of construction of a new puppy care facility at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary took place on Friday, April 3 at the site of the new complex.

Best Friends’ employees will join invited guests and local civic officials to take the first step in the construction of the two building complex, which includes a puppy admissions building, a puppy socialization building, and a park that separates the two structures.

“Best Friends is committed to ending the practice of inhumane commercial breeding and animal hoarding,” said Patty Hegwood, director of animal care at Best Friends Animal Society. “This new facility will help us provide the kind of whole health care (medical, social and emotional) that puppies rescued from these environments need until they can find permanent, loving homes.”

The $1.2 million facility, funded from private donations, will be the first such structure on Best Friends’ 3,700-acre sanctuary to be devoted exclusively to puppy care. It will be able to accommodate up to 240 puppies, including mothers. Construction is expected to be completed in December of 2009.

The admissions building will be where newly arrived puppies are put in quarantine until they get their full medical checkups. In addition to the quarantine area and medical room, there will be family suites, where new mothers can peacefully nurse their newborns until they are healthy and ready for socialization.

The main living area of the Puppy Care Center will be in the socialization building, which also includes “classrooms” where puppies and rescued parents can learn what it’s like to work together. It’s also where they meet other animals and people, hear for the first time typical household sounds like telephones or doorbells, and walk on common floor surfaces.

The complex will include a park/playground, where puppies run around, socialize, and generally have a good time. It will be the place where they learn to play well with other dogs, as well as interact with people.