FISHERS, Ind. — In Fishers Wednesday, local leaders cut the ribbon on the new $12 million Hamilton County Humane Society.
Donors who helped make the shelter happen, got to tour the facility on Hague Road for the first time.
The animals have been there for a week and families can start adopting animals on April 8.
From the outside, the size and scope of the new Humane Society for Hamilton County is impressive.
Rebecca Stevens, the president and CEO couldn't help but get emotional seeing the facility complete.
"After 16 years, my personal dream has come true, today," Stevens said.
And inside, this huge safe haven is already making a difference for animals awaiting their forever homes.
"This place is not sad," Stevens said, "not a single part of it is sad."
"Seeing the cats and dogs so happy, it's a dream come true," added Megan Davis, the Humane Society's marketing manager.
Humane Society for Hamilton County new Fishers location
"The animals love it, especially the cats and I'm a cat foster," said Jill Cook. "So especially the cats laying in these sunrooms, it's just amazing! They didn't have any sunlight in the old shelter...I'm going to get emotional. It's just amazing that they get natural sunlight and the favorite thing a cat likes to do is lay in the sunbeam and they're going to get sun all day long, so it's just fabulous."
Those "catios," as they're called, connect to four large roaming rooms, including one honoring the memory of a Noblesville teen who fought cancer for a decade and lost her battle on April 1.
Izzy Mattocks loved cats and always made sure cats, especially homeless ones, were cared for.
Her mom attended Wednesday's ceremony and said Izzy would have loved seeing this place complete.
For dogs at the new shelter, there are outdoor runs and indoor-outdoor kennels.
"The difference in this shelter is just astounding," Cook said.
"This is a step well above and beyond what they had before," added Dixie Covert.
The old shelter was 8,000 square feet and came with a lot of challenges for the pets and staff.
The new facility is 40,000 square feet and includes education rooms for hosting parties and school groups, plus a medical and surgical center with a full-time veterinarian on staff for the first time.
"So we'll be able to do spay-neuter in house, be able to triage - all those kinds of surgeries that we had to outsource before. So, we're very excited to do that," Davis explained.
There are special touches, too.
Brenda Long, Stevens' sister, created hand-painted art on the walls: trees and birds in the cat-roaming rooms.
There's also a large, airy welcoming lobby for visitors.
But what first-time visitors really noticed and appreciated was those play spaces to make pets' temporary shelter feel more like their future homes.
"You know we're able to complete families...which is all part of our mission," Davis said.