Pets Lifeline a whisker shy of funding goal

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The capital campaign to fund a new animal shelter in Sonoma is oh-so-close, and yet still far away, say local pet-rescue officials.

Pets Lifeline, Sonoma Valley’s pet shelter and adoption facility, has raised $3.2 million of its $3.5 million capital campaign goal to build a new facility at its Eighth Street East property.

“We still need money to close that gap,” said Nancy King, executive director of the nonprofit, who added that the animal resource center does not receive any money from city, county, state or federal sources. “We exist completely on donations.”

The capital campaign is behind the hoped-for timeline that optimistically had the donations collected by March of this year, with groundbreaking starting in May; now in late July they are still shy by $300,000.

“Everything takes a bit longer than you think,” King said.

But the goal is close and she’s not losing hope.

“We want people to know that we really appreciate all of your community support and we have been awed and completely grateful to all the people who have come forward on a regular basis, and those who have come forward to support our capital campaign,” she said.

They will be relocating to a temporary, not-yet-disclosed location at the end of August and will re-open for business in early September. Now at the “height of kitten season,” – they’ve taken in 150 kittens since May – they will have plenty of pets that need adopting or fostering.

Initially King thought they could stay at the Eighth Street East property in temporary buildings, but “for the animals’ benefit” they decided it would be best to keep them away from the big machinery and noise during demolition of the current buildings and construction of the new digs.

“Stay tuned for the announcement of our relocation,” she said, while preparing for Pets Lifeline’s big fundraiser this Saturday, July 27, “Tails from the Menagerie.” King noted that none of the money raised at Tails from the Menagerie will go toward the capital campaign and the new facility. Money raised at their annual fundraisers goes solely to operational costs, King said.

Operating costs can fluctuate to some degree depending on the number of animals they take in throughout the year, King said, but the more money they collect means they are able to help more pets with things such as spaying and neutering. More than 1,000 animals were spayed or neutered in 2017 and 2018.

The current facility, King said, is overused and limiting for their purposes, with makeshift spaces for services like veterinary care and sheds used to house feral cats. Cost-saving building upgrades and environmentally-friendly systems include such things as solar panels, rain water harvest system, vermiculture system to process pet waste, drought-resistant landscaping, a high-pressure hose washing system for cleaning kennels and a propane-powered generator for emergencies.

The new facility will include separate counters for dog and cat adoptions and two meet-and-greet rooms where potential adopting families can get to know a prospective cat or dog. An adoptee interview conference room will create a comfortable place for adoption discussions.

The canine habitat will include two enclosed play areas, 20 indoor/outdoor connected kennels and an outdoor dog adoption garden. Indoor classrooms, useful for year-round training, will attach to the courtyard.

The second-floor cattery will include eight community cat rooms, 20 cage intake rooms and a dedicated room for feral cats, plus a covered “catio” space.

The veterinary clinic, which was cramped in a 160-square-foot trailer, will have a more adequate space at 1,375 square feet with separate rooms in the clinic for intake, isolation, exam, surgery, prep and recovery.

Plans to expand education and training were impossible in the current configuration of outdoor-only space, said King, but will be possible year-round with a 625-square-foot classroom, or multi-purpose, space and garden.

The multipurpose rooms can double as a co-located shelter for pets and people during emergencies.

King said that Saturday’s event – which “is going to be awesome” – is sold out, but donations are always welcome and needed.

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