MILTON - An animal shelter here received an early Christmas present when a local charity gave it a $1 million grant.
The Milton Animal League announced at the town’s Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday night that the Copeland Family Foundation granted it $1 million to build a new shelter at its current Governor Stoughton Lane location.
The foundation is a private, not-for-profit group based in Milton that has made large donations to the town over the last 30 years. The Copeland family also helped to establish the League in 1978.
“This project is of particular importance, as the Copeland family has always been committed to the protection of animals,’’ said Michael Cody, the lawyer representing the foundation, in a letter to the Milton Animal League president, Linda Palmer.
“This was just wonderful,’’ said Nancy Bersani, Milton’s animal control officer. “We are unbelievably grateful to the Copeland family, who has stuck by us for years and years.’’
The current structure was built in the 1970s as a temporary shelter, according to its website. The League has been planning and raising funds for the last six years to build a new shelter, but the group has managed to raise only about a half-million dollars so far.
“It’s currently being held together with duct tape and electrical tape,’’ Bersani said.
The shelter has a small reception area with a computer and telephone, and the room doubles as the medical treatment area with a metal examining table.
When the shelter was first built, the animals never stayed very long, and the cages were built to reflect that. The cats are in crates that are about 2 feet square, and the dog crates are about 3 by 6 feet.
That situation can be very stressful for the animals, which are kept in the cages anywhere between 20 and 24 hours per day, for up to months at a time, Bersani said.
Repairs were recently made when the ceiling collapsed, and the floor tiles were rotting through in the area where the cats are kept.
The League plans to tear down the current shelter, which is roughly 2,500 square feet, and rebuild it to twice the size of what it currently is. Bersani said that the construction plans do not include increasing the number of animals the shelter can hold, which is about 12 dogs, and 13 cats.
“We feel that to give the animals the best care we can, we wouldn’t be able to do it with more animals,’’ Bersani said. “We feel we do a really good job with the animals we have.’’
The group is waiting for approval from the attorney general’s office and the probate land court, Bersani said.
The grant will be formally awarded within 30 days of when the contract for construction is issued.
“We’re ready to go,’’ Bersani said.