Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Celebrates Groundbreaking of South Suburban Humane Society’s New Shelter

October 27, 2020

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Village President of Matteson Sheila Chalmers-Currin along with administrators from Cook County Animal and Rabies Control, South Suburban Humane Society (SSHS) and other elected officials and community leaders attended a groundbreaking event today for a new SSHS shelter in Matteson.

In May, the County’s Animal and Rabies Control awarded SSHS $6 million as part of Housing Cook County’s Animals grant program. SSHS is using the funds toward construction of a new facility that will reduce shelter stress, provide enrichment and move pets through the shelter system as quickly as possible. The space will be designed to promote volunteerism, fostering and adoption.

“This program gives us greater capacity to safeguard all animal residents of Cook County ensuring they have safe shelter in times of need,” said President Preckwinkle. “Our partnership with SSHS helps to fulfill our commitment that companion animals are able to find safe homes as quickly as possible.”

Each year SSHS cares for an average of 3,500 animals. The new 16,000 square foot shelter in Matteson will be constructed by RWE Design Build and Linden Group Architects. The facility is scheduled for completion in January 2022.

"I'm thrilled to welcome the South Suburban Humane Society to our community,” said President Chalmers-Currin. “Our residents place a special value on our pets and animals, which makes today's announcement a perfect match. We are honored that Matteson is the new home for the ultimate protector of animals."

Several south suburban locations were explored for the new facility according to SSHS officials. Matteson was chosen for the vast natural landscape and ability for volunteers and pets to walk and explore.

“This location is our dream come to true,” said SSHS CEO Emily Klehm. “It is easily accessible. People will have a scenic place to walk dogs on the property and our cats will gaze at this gorgeous landscape from the planned catio windows.”

This award covers 80 percent of the project and SSHS is raising the remaining funds through their campaign – A New Home for SSHS.

Housing Cook County’s Animals grant program was funded by residents who paid a small rabies tag fee to have their dog or cat vaccinated for through the County. The goal of the program is to expand the capacity of existing nonprofit and governmental animal shelters while providing housing for animals impounded by Animal and Rabies Control.

“I see the need for more shelter space every day,” said Dr. Tom Wake, DVM, Animal and Rabies Control administrator. “My department is committed to providing the most innovative and safe homes for our animals in need.”

“I’m extremely excited to welcome this new facility to the Southland,” said Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller. “The new South Suburban Humane Society will have such a positive impact for two-legged and four-legged friends alike.”

For more information about Housing Cook County’s Animals grant program, visit www.cookcountyil.gov/AnimalShelterGrant. To download B roll of the current SSHS facility as well as renderings of the new facility along with drone footage of the parcel of land, click here.