SLO County Opened New Animal Service Facility

After two years of construction, San Luis Obispo County has completed construction of a new animal service facility. The county says the new building looks to improve the quality of life for local animals.

The construction of the new facility was a $20 million project funded by seven incorporated cities in SLO County.

The building is twice the size of the county’s previous facility, but fits roughly the same number of animals: 50 dogs, 80 cats, and some exotic animals like reptiles and rodents.

Dr. Eric Anderson is the director of animal services for SLO County. He said the way the county looks after the animals has changed dramatically over the past few decades.

“The old facility was built 50 years ago, and it was just to house dogs. Cats were an afterthought, and there was no consideration for hamsters or guinea pigs and rabbits and snakes and things like that for the past several years,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the county built the new facility to provide improved living conditions, medical care facilities and play areas for the animals.

The shelter has community rooms for cats and double kennels for dogs. Outside, volunteers can take dogs for runs and walks in or around the facility.

Volunteer Ally Mortensen walks an adoptable dog at Animal Services’ New Dogs Play Area.

“The old shelter, the way it was designed, contributed to the animals’ stress and anxiety. And there was a lot of chaos because it was just a big barn space type container. So the noise was really going on, and that contributed to the stress and anxiety.” [of] Anderson said.

The county captures the animals by responding to calls of fugue, animal aggression, and investigations into animal abuse. Every year the county cares for about 5,000 animals.

Anderson said dogs stay at the shelter about 10 days, cats stay for 20 days, and sometimes animals stay longer. With this new facility, he said, the county is able to take care of each animal’s needs with greater care than before.

“The building has a lot of new capabilities, new functions and processes that will 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 will be able to care for livestock such as horses, pigs and cattle.

September 21 is the grand opening of the sanctuary, where visitors can find dogs, cats, hamsters and even a few chinchillas for adoption.

Anyone wishing to volunteer at an animal shelter must be 18 or older, be able to commit for six months, and volunteer at least two hours per week. You can find details about volunteering here.

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