Big plans are underway for the Burlington Animal Shelter in 2018 as the shelter has been in the planning period for a massive expansion and renovation for the past few years.

"When you're building a building of this size it's a lot of detail and planning, and a lot of pieces go into that," said Jessica Arias, Director of Animal Services.

The shelter hasn't had any significant reconstruction or renovation since 2004, and the main building has been standing since the 1960's.

After years of planning, Arias said the plans are currently being finalized, and the shelter is on schedule to break ground in the spring.

"We do the best we can with what we've got, but what we've got is not cutting it anymore," Arias said.

The plans include a brand new facility that will be added to the Pet Adoption Center and a complete renovation of the adoption center in order to bring it up to date to current sheltering standards and increase its capacity.

"Our old facility... doesn't really meet all the minimum requirements the state has for animal shelters," Arias said. "Our new building... will be modern and will meet all the standards to take better care of animals."

While the completion of the project will sustain the shelter for at least the next 20 years, the project itself comes with many challenges, including trying to operate while under construction.

"It's a big undertaking and while this is going on, we're going to continue to have 4,000 pets coming through our facilities," Arias said.

One thing Arias said people can do to help is to foster a pet. Fostering is a way for a person or family to house and care for a dog until it can be placed in its forever home. The Toberman family took this one step forward by adopting. 

After searching for the perfect new pet to add to their family of five, the Toberman's met seven-year-old, Luke. 

"Luke just seemed to fit our family perfect," said Ava Toberman, the middle of the three Toberman children. "We could tell from the moment we saw him that we really liked him."

Luke was surrendered by his previous owners in June. Before finding his new family, Luke spent two months in the shelter with little interest from people looking to adopt, and two months in a foster home. After adding Luke to their family in December, Tyler, the oldest of the three Toberman siblings, wants to spread a message.

"You need to adopt, not shop," Tyler said. 

"Adopt, don't shop" is a campaign slogan promoting pet adoption over purchasing pets in a store. 

Tyler said older dogs, like Luke, especially get looked over at the shelters.

"[Older dogs] need a home. They need somewhere to go, and a lot of people don't see that," Tyler said. "We were the first people to even look at him. You need to support your older dogs and get them into a nice forever home."

Tyler's youngest sister, Amelia, agrees with her brother because for her, age is just a number.

"I get that he's old and that he won't be able to do the things puppies are able to do which I'm okay with," Amelia said. "Older dogs aren't much different than puppies, they'll all get there."

For Amelia, sometimes old dogs don't have to learn new tricks because they're great just the way they are.

"I love him so much. He's just perfect and cute!" Amelia said.

For more information on the construction or on how to adopt or foster a pet, find the Burlington Animal Shelter on Facebook or check out their website.