VALPARAISO — As the longest serving employee at the Porter County Animal Shelter, Dawn Decker said she had to come out early Wednesday morning to watch the demolition of the former facility south of U.S. 30 on Ind. 2.

"It's bittersweet," the Valparaiso resident said as heavy machinery tore off the roof and knocked down walls. "The new shelter is amazing, but I have a lot of memories here, so I didn't want to miss it."

The concrete block building was built in 1982 and has been deemed too small and out of date for many years. The county built a new $3.5 million facility this spring near the Porter County Expo Center along Ind. 49 and moved animals over at the end of May.

Decker, who serves as adoption coordinator, said the new facility provides larger kennels and greater privacy for the dogs. The cats moved from cramped kennels to large community rooms where they are much happier, she said.

"Our adoptions are up," she said.

While watching and filming Wednesday morning's demolition, Decker said she thought she would be more sad.

"I started here in May of 2008 as a volunteer and never left," she said.

Shelter Director Toni Bianchi also came out to watch the demolition.

"I think it's a good thing," she said. "I think it's time to move on."

While many good things happened at the former shelter, she said the construction of a new facility was overdue.

The demolition should help clear up confusion among those who have still been going to the old site, not realizing it was closed.

Porter County Highway Department Supervisor Andy McKay said the demolition work was being done in-house, and he was instructed to level the site so it can be planted with grass.

He thought the demolition would be done by the day's end.

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