Isabel Keane, Poughkeepsie Journal
The bark is worse than the bite — a fact the Dutchess County SPCA recently learned to be true.
The sounds of howls and barks have resounded the SPCA’s hallway since an expansion in 2015.
More than simply headaches for the staff, the sharp echoes caused anxiety for the animals the Hyde Park shelter aims to aid.
“Dogs and cats have very sensitive hearing and the sonic qualities of a space heavily contributed to their ability to feel safe and calm,” said Dutchess County SPCA Executive Director Lynne Meloccaro. “The stress of the noise and reverberation from the echoes in the hallway was really becoming too much for them.”
But with the help of local businesses, the Violet Avenue facility was renovated recently to the relief of all its guests.
Highland-based architectural acoustic consulting and design firm Walters-Storyk Design Group lent its expertise to the SPCA last summer. The group, which has contributed to international projects in sports venues, theaters and museums, worked pro bono to equip the walls as if it were working on a recording studio. Poughkeepsie’s Baxter Building Corporation installed the new hardware for free.
“I’m just so grateful to John Storyk and WSDG studios for designing it and for Baxter for putting those things up,” Meloccaro said. “The ceilings are so high they actually had to get a crane in to hang the baffles, but they did a beautiful job and it has made a world of difference for these dogs.”
The project was completed in January, and Meloccaro said staff noticed a change in the overall health and happiness of the dogs instantaneously.
The facility lacks wire kennels; its dogs live in soundproof “pods” intended to be a relaxing and safe space. But with dogs getting riled up on their way back to their pods, the SPCA had trouble helping the dogs stay relaxed and safe.
“We have a modern facility here. We don’t have wire kennels or anything; the dogs have what we call ‘pods’ — they’re nice and spacious and soundproof inside the pod,” said Meloccaro. “The problem we were having is that the hallway that connects all of them sounded like an indoor pool. You know how echoey and loud and horrible that is?”