After two years of construction, San Luis Obispo County has completed construction of a new animal services facility. The county says the new building aims to improve the quality of life for local animals.
Construction of the new facility was a $20 million project funded by the seven incorporated cities of SLO County.
The building is about twice the size of the county’s old facility, but can hold about the same number of animals: 50 dogs, 80 cats, and a few exotic animals like reptiles and rodents.
Dr. Eric Anderson is the Director of Animal Services for SLO County. He said the way the county cares for animals has changed dramatically over the past few decades.
“The old facility was built 50 years ago and was designed to house dogs only. Cats were an afterthought, and there was never any consideration for hamsters or guinea pigs , and rabbits, and snakes and things like that over the last few years,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the county built the new facility to improve living conditions, medical care facilities and play areas for animals.
The shelter has community rooms for cats and double-space kennels for dogs. Outside, volunteers can take the dogs for runs and walks in or around the facility.
“The old shelter, really the way it was designed, just added to the stress of the animals and the restlessness. And there was a lot of chaos because there was only one large enclosure of barn type. So the noise was really continuous, and that contributed to stress and anxiety [of] animals,” Anderson said.
The county acquires the animals by responding to stray dog calls, animal aggression, and animal abuse investigations. Each year, the county cares for approximately 5,000 animals.
Anderson said dogs stay at the shelter for about 10 days, cats stay about 20 days, and sometimes animals stay even longer. He said with this new facility, the county is able to meet the needs of each animal more carefully than before.
“The building has a lot of new capabilities and new functions and processes that are going to help us do things more efficiently at a better level,” Anderson said.
The building is complete, but Anderson said the next step is to build a barn adjacent to the building where animal services can care for livestock like horses, pigs and cattle.
September 21 is the grand opening of the shelter, where visitors can find dogs, cats, hamsters and even a few chinchillas to adopt.
Anyone who wants to volunteer at the animal shelter must be 18 years of age or older, be able to commit for six months, and volunteer at least two hours a week. You can find details about volunteering here.