Pets Lifeline’s new facility taking shape
After breaking ground on its new facility last September, Pets Lifeline is still a few months away from its Cinderella moment. “By March of 2021 we’ll be fully there,” said Executive Director Nancy King of the timeline for the pet-rescue center’s grand re-opening.
Replacing the warren of old buildings, trailers and sheds on Eighth Street East will be a sparkling $3.4 million facility, striking in contrast to what had existed before and visible now from the street.
“Construction is moving along quickly. We’re over 50 percent complete,” said Mary Catherine Cutcliffe, outreach coordinator for Pets Lifeline. “We kept our nose to the grindstone and kept along with the project during COVID because we are deemed an essential service.”
The shelter’s animals were relocated to a “little mobile pet village” on Broadway during construction, and will return to a significantly upgraded habitat.
The previous reception area of less than 200 square feet will be expanded to 960 square feet in the new shelter. A new “welcome lobby” will allow visitors to move freely from the animal viewing areas to the adoption center, and staff anticipate that the additional space will allow it to increase the number of adoptions that can be processed daily, reducing the average length and cost of shelter stays.
On the second floor, a new “cattery” featuring eight interconnected cat habitats will allow felines to flow freely between spaces, eliminating the need to crate and move them between cleanings, thereby reducing stress on the animals. A dedicated area for feline adoptions, two meet-and-greet rooms for the kitties to charm potential two-legged companions, and a conference room will likewise be located upstairs.
The shelter’s new canine habitat will accommodate 20 indoor and outdoor kennels, up from the previous maximum of 13. A new 3,150-square-foot run is planned for large dogs, along with a 600-square-foot run to accommodate smaller breeds. Previously, all canines shared a single, significantly smaller outdoor run.
“We’ll have more room for necessary animal welfare environments,” King said. “In the old shelter, everyone was in one place. Now, the shelter will be able to have animals on holds in staff-only areas, so when the public sees the animals they’ll be seeing only the animals ready for adoptions. We believe we’ll be able to help more animals this way.”
A state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and lab will replace the 160-square-foot trailer previously used for medical interventions, providing a modernized exam room, a full surgery room, medical housing, and isolation rooms for both cats and dogs within 1,375 square feet of new construction. Previously, only cats and small dogs could be safely operated on. Larger animals required treatment off-site.
“Within six months we’ll be able to open up vet services to the public,” King said.
“The vet clinic is a true wing, with a generator that kicks on in event of emergency. If that goes out, we can switch to propane,” Cutcliffe said.
Other energy efficient improvements added to the infrastructure will automatically regulate temperatures, improve water efficiency through use of spray technology, and upgrade solar and gray-water economy. In addition, Pets Lifeline will be the first entity to use vermiculture in a kennel environment, composting its animal waste through four layers of microbial bacteria into worm food.
A classroom with an attached courtyard will serve year-round as an education hub for dog training, pet ownership workshops, pet assistant therapy certification and extensive humane education programming, as well as for after-school programs and summer camps. Previously, the shelter’s education programming could only be conducted outdoors in fair weather months, limiting both the scope and reach of Pet Lifeline’s mission.
Every year, Pets Lifeline provides care to more than 875 cats and dogs, nearly half in the form of free neuter and spay services for animals adopted by families in need. It remains the only animal welfare organization and shelter in Sonoma Valley, and has given a second chance at happiness to 18,625 animals since its founding in 1982.
Designed by architect Henry Wix, with construction managed by contractor Scott Miller, the new and improved Pets Lifeline facility remains slightly short of its fundraising goal. Animal lovers are encouraged to visit the Pets Lifeline website for more information on how to contribute to the shelter’s capital campaign.
The new facility is the result of much patience and determination, and was a long time coming over the shelter’s nearly 40-year history. “It will be a bit of a culture shock, but we’ve been planning for a while, and we know that we’ll be able to take such better care of the animals,” King said.
“I’m ecstatic,” Cutcliffe added. “I can’t wait.”
Meanwhile, the shelter has a range of dogs and cats ready for adoption, as well as some 55 kittens. “It’s kitten season!” King said. “When it starts to get nice out, the cats get busy.”
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