Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth cuddles Liberty, a...

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth cuddles Liberty, a former shelter dog who was adopted by a shelter employee at the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter in Port Washington, May 28, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

North Hempstead's animal shelter has its first new kennels in 40 years, marked by brighter colors and healthier and more private conditions, officials said.

The 66 stainless steel cages at the shelter in Port Washington have been replaced by 60 new ones, with stainless steel exteriors and moisture-proof side panels that touch the ground. The design offers more privacy to dogs that had been separated by panels that did not reach the floor.

The renovation is part of a splashier look for the 40-year-old shelter that is run by North Hempstead and has volunteers from The Shelter Connection, a nonprofit partner. The town funded the $92,000 renovation, and animals were moved into the new cages last week.

Workers had likened the collection of solely stainless steel cages to a prison aesthetic.

Though some of the roughly 6-foot-tall cages have stainless steel interior walls, all kennels have moisture-proof walls, and most are teal in color. They range from 33 to 64 inches wide, and the once-gray cement floors have been coated blue.

"It went from jail to kindergarten," said Sue Hassett, the former director who began working there in 1978 -- when it was a called a dog pound -- and now works there part-time.

Planned are new sound panels, to block out the barks, and full-spectrum lighting, which mimics daylight.

"Those kennels were 40 years old, and they were in such tremendous need of replacement," said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. "It sets them up as wonderful animals to be adopted as pets."

Another benefit is the dogs will be less likely to spill their water bowls or slide on the floors. The bowls have holders, and the cement is skid-resistant.

And the colors "will highlight the dogs more," said Jenna Givargidze, shelter director.

"If you want to adopt a dog for your family, you really don't want to go to jail," Hassett said.

A new door that enters into the outside is insulated. "On a New York winter, a cement floor is very cold for the dogs," Givargidze said.

Hassett said the renovations signal a turnaround from a "dog pound to a community animal shelter. "

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