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The board of the Sonsini Animal Shelter announced the shelter is closing because of lack of funds.

Eleanor Sonsini Shelter Plans Closing, Manager Attempts to Save It

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter has announced its closing after housing the community’s stray animals for many years.

On Saturday, the no-kill shelter’s board members announced the news on social media.  They are looking at Aug. 31 as an official closing date.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Board of Directors of the Friends of Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter is announcing that we have made the decision to close the facility,” the post read.

“Unfortunately, throughout the past few years, donations have continued to dwindle while expenses have continued to rise. Our current facility is not sustainable long term as an animal shelter. As our dedicated supporters, staff and volunteers know, we never intended our current space to be permanent.”

The shelter is committed to finding loving forever homes for the animals remaining in its care and upon closing, the remaining animals will be transferred to other no-kill shelters.

However, the shelter’s manager Noelle Howland is determined to save the shelter through a GoFundMe page.

“Words cannot express how I feel about the Eleanor Sonsini Shelter announcing we are shutting down. Less than 24 hours before the Facebook post was made, I was told by the board members that money was getting tight and we’re probably closing. The board members handle all of the financial decisions for the shelter, but aren’t in the shelter actually working,” she wrote on the fundraiser.

“As the shelter manager, I was told along with the staff and we were all devastated. It was a complete blindside. I knew there was talk about finding a new location, but none of us really knew this was what they’ve been thinking for awhile. I told them immediately after the announcement that I am going to try to raise money and not just give up like they seem to be doing. I do understand that they are the Board and are in charge, but in seeing the lack of fundraising efforts makes me question it all.”

Howland reported that the conditions of the shelter are disappointing and not fair to the animals and staff though best efforts have been made to keep it a pleasant and clean environment.

In 2018, the city pulled its contract to take stray animals to Sonsini and the nonprofit shelter was ordered to leave the municipal-owned building in Downing Industrial Business Park. This brought operations to a smaller location at 875 Crane Ave., which was intended to be temporary.

“The building is tiny, and the dogs are so close to one another that whenever they are brought in/out they are reactive and try to go at each other. Staff have been injured and clothes torn from this. It takes a special type of staff to work with the animals in these conditions. More space or better kennels would help greatly,” Howland wrote.

“The cats and kittens are in the office space very close to the dogs, but at least separated. The building is old, and to heat it, is a ton of money. There are no windows to open so no air flow. Staff runs as many fans as we can without the circuit blowing. A wonderful donor gave us an air conditioner for the office which has helped in this crazy summer heat and humidity. The kennels outside have very easy access for the animals to dig under and get out (which they have many times before). It takes constant supervision to make sure they are safe in and out of the shelter walls.”

She is asking for help with placing animals in homes and raising enough money for a new building in time to keep the shelter running.  She would like to prove that it can stay open and get the furry friends the proper facility that they need and deserve.

“Being the only no-kill shelter within 100 miles, that’s just one more shelter closed! All shelters, for profit or not for profit, are filling up or are full. With others full, that means they will be turning down surrenders or euthanizing. I am concerned what will happen to the animals currently here if we can’t find them homes or another no-kill shelter. I know I can’t save them all, but my hope is that people will realize that the staff was never made full aware of any of this, and we weren’t given the chance until now to try to help,” Howland wrote.

“The animals need all of us to be their advocate and make sure they stay in our care in a better and safer place versus being moved all around. If we can’t raise enough to get a new space, we may be able to buy some time for the Board to come up with an alternative plan, or for us to get these dogs adopted out to families. I am being told that to keep the shelter going we need six months of expenses, plus money in the bank account. This fundraiser is just a piece of that and I hope to exceed the goal to show the Board that the animals and the shelter matters to Berkshire County.”

The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter’s Board of Trustees can be reached at


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Pittsfield ZBA Grants Casella Permit for Waste Transfer Facility

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals calls Casella's planned redevelopment of the former trash incinerator an improvement to the site.

Last week, the panel approved a special permit to allow a waste transfer facility at the site on 500 Hubbard Ave. Casella Waste Management purchased the waste transfer facility on Hubbard Avenue from Community Eco Power LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in 2021 and has demolished it for redevelopment into a waste transfer station.

The owners say the trash will be brought to the facility and transferred away daily. Concerns that were voiced about the project include odor and impacts to the surrounding area but Casella says the new operation will be less of an impact than the former.

"I think this is going to be a vast improvement based upon the facility that was there previously. I know that sometimes you would get a sight of the other one, they used to dump the waste and it was laying like a floating pond," board member John Fitzgerald said.

"And since the trash is not going to be there, it's going to be in and out, I think the odor will be reduced and I think the vermin will be reduced."

It was also pointed out that the site has handled trash for 40 years.

"I think a lot of the odor before was related to burning," board member Esther Anderson "And there's not going to be burning so it it's going to be greatly reducing the amount of odor and if it's not sitting there is no place for vermin to be."

The former incinerator, including a 118-foot tall stack, has already been demolished a fabric structure is being used temporarily for waste handling.

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