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Animal Refuge League expanding

WESTBROOK (WGME) -- The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland is expanding.

The shelter says cramped kennels and an outdated building are forcing them to rebuild. Now, with a few million dollars in help coming from the community, they can.

"Today marks a watershed moment for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland," said Patsy Murphy, executive director of the group.

It's an announcement 50 years in the making.

"We are here today to announce our plans for the future," Murphy said. "It is nothing short of a state-of-the-art $6.5 million building to be built on our existing site right here in the historic Stroudwater neighborhood."

The shelter will embark on a 25,000-square-foot, multi-million dollar construction of a new building. Their old one, they say, has outgrown their needs.

The Refuge League says one of their biggest problems is the lack of space. For instance, their dog kennels aren't nearly big enough for some of the larger dogs they receive.

"The space is designed to provide animals with a more natural home-like setting," said Murphy. "We don't want to have animals in cages or confined spaces. The current facility, if we get a large dog, there's not enough space in the kennels for these animals to move around."

The shelter has already raised $4.3 million. One million of that came from the family of local businessman, Art Girard, a devoted supporter of the shelter.

"Animals are something we've always had a passion for," said Monica Girard, Art Girard's daughter. "We've always wanted to help and support. When this discussion came up in regard to a building being built and we saw how much they already raised, it became a no-brainer for my father to say this is where we're going to put the money."

Construction is set to begin spring 2015.