Generous donors and hard-working volunteers have helped make the Tazewell Animal Protective Society (TAPS) animal shelter in Pekin a safer and healthier place for dogs that are brought in and live there.

A 2,500-square-foot rear addition that opened in May contains an enclosed garage where arriving dogs are taken out of vehicles without a fear of escape. It's also a place where those dogs, especially those without a documented health history or are sick, stay before they join the general population.

“Our vet has said that putting a dog that comes to us directly into the general population is like putting a newborn into a day care,” said TAPS executive director Holly Crotty. “At the very least, the dog has a weakened immune system because of stress.”

When incoming dogs are processed at TAPS, Crotty said, a vet tech gives them a comprehensive exam.

“We weigh them, examine their teeth and ears, feel their body for lumps or masses, check their body condition score, draw blood for heartworm, administer distemper/parvo vaccine, oral bordatella and dewormer, apply flea/heartworm preventative, give a dose of secnidazol, scan them for a microchip and implant one if they don’t already have one, and put on a martingale collar with a TAPS tag,” she said.

“Between 95 to 98 percent still need to be spayed or neutered, so they’re scheduled for surgery.”

There are 12 kennels in the addition, all in one row. The general kennel area has two rows of kennels.

“Now when a dog settles in with us, it doesn’t have to stare at another dog across the aisle,” Crotty said.

Four quarantine rooms, each with its own heating and cooling system, are available for use in the addition.

A pregnant dog brought into TAPS recently had her puppies in a quarantine room, Crotty said. And a dog with severe kennel cough was placed in a quarantine room while it was recovering.

Having a safe place to unload an arriving dog from a vehicle has brought enormous peace of mind to Crotty and the TAPS staff and volunteers.

“As hard as we tried, dogs did escape on rare occasions,” she said.

The $400,000 cost for TAPS’ addition was covered by donations from five estates, with a little left over. Donated labor and materials kept the construction cost down.

Work on the addition began late last year.

“This is something we’ve really needed,” Crotty said. “Now that we have it, we’re increasing our fundraising efforts because we have additional operating expenses.”

Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or stevestein21@yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.