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SLO County opens new animal services facility

SLO County animal services
Gabriela Fernandez
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A kitten up for adoption at SLO County's animal services facility.

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

The 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 previous facility, but fits about the same amount of animals: 50 dogs, 80 cats and some exotic animals like reptiles and rodents.

Dr. Eric Anderson is the animal services manager for SLO County. He said the way the county cares for animals has drastically changed over the last few decades.

“The old facility was built 50 years ago, and was made to house dogs only. Cats were an afterthought, and there was never any consideration given to hamsters or guinea pigs, and rabbits, and snakes and things like that in 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 the cats and dual space kennels for the dogs. Outside, volunteers can take dogs on runs and walks in or around the facility.

SLO County animal services
Gabriela Fernandez
/
Volunteer Allie Mortensen walks an adoptable dog in animal services' new play area for dogs.

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

The county acquires the animals by responding to calls of strays, animal aggression and investigations for animal abuse. Each year the county cares for about 5,000 animals.

Anderson said dogs stay at the shelter for about 10 days, cats stay for about 20 days, and occasionally animals stay even longer. He said, with this new facility, the county is able to care for each animal's needs more attentively than before.

“The building has a whole lot of new capacities and new functions and processes that are gonna help us do things more efficiently on a better level,” Anderson said.

The building is completed, 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 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 up for adoption.

Anyone who wants to volunteer at the animal shelter must be 18 years or older, be able to make a six-month commitment, and volunteer at least two hours a week. You can find details about volunteering here.

Gabriela Fernandez is a general assignment reporter at KCBX News. She studied political science at Sac State, interned at CapRadio and then worked as an associate podcast producer at CapRadio working on the TahoeLand podcast.
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