The Homer Animal Friends, a local volunteer group dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals in the community, is moving its storefront from Main Street to the Kachemak Center on Pioneer Avenue this month.
The volunteer organization, formed in 1984, has operated a storefront to raise money for its various animal-related causes for the last four years. Now, it will be open for business in a larger space in the lower level of the Kachemak Center starting May 13.
Homer Animal Friends Board President Ashley Vecellio said the group has outgrown their current space on Main Street and had been looking for a new one for a while. With the new location, Homer Animal Friends will have room for more products such as animal food, and will be able to offer more educational opportunities, she said. The organization was also able to upgrade their dog washing station thanks to the new, larger space.
“We have a dog wash service at the current store, and our current tub is a little small,” Vecellio said. “So we ordered a really nice tub.”
Another advantage of moving from the Main Street location to the Kachemak Center on Pioneer Avenue is the increased number of parking spaces.
Board member Pat Boone said the new space also is a little more centrally located in town and should be easier for people to find.
“The store has really helped all of Homer Animal Friends in that it’s a presence that people can go to,” she said. “And before we were just kind of a number or a website or whatever.”
The Kachemak Center also is closer to the location where Homer Animal Friends provides classes through the Homer Dog Trainers on Heath Street.
The Homer Animal Friends have existed long before the storefront, providing services like pet waste clean up, education in schools, donation of animal literature to the Homer Public Library, the Chariots of Fur 5K and support for the city’s animal shelter. Last year, the organization held a new workshop for pet first aid. Vecellio said they plan to continue holding the event yearly.
She and Boone said Homer Animal Friends also plan to hold a dog treat tasting event in the new store once it’s open, and hope to provide it regularly if the first one goes well.
The organization also offers the community coupons that gives pet owners discounts on spay and neuter serves, which are performed at Homer Veterinary Clinic.
“I would say the number one way that we impact the community is through spay and neuter,” Vecellio said.
Since the organization started its work in 1984, volunteers have helped to spay or neuter more than 9,500 animals in the Homer area, Vecellio said. The cost of covering the difference of the procedure when pet owners use their coupons came out to about $488,000 over that same time, she said.
When it comes to animals adopted from the shelter, Homer Animal Friends pays half the cost of spaying or neutering. They also host three spay and neuter clinics each year, where pet owners can get access to the service at a discounted cost.
Homer Animal Friends helps out at the local shelter in more ways than one. The group pays the adoption fee for any animal in the Golden Paws Program, which is for seniors citizens adopting senior animals. Homer Dog Trainers also work with shelter animals who made need a little extra help in the manners department.
Today, Thursday, will be the last day customers can shop at the Main Street store location. Homer Animal Friends plans to hold a grand opening later in May after a soft opening on May 13.