An illustration of the proposed animal shelter project. 

Courtesy image

Artistic renderings of the city of Elk Grove’s proposed, 19,000-square-foot animal shelter were introduced at a public meeting in the Council Chambers on April 3.

Included are various views of this facility, which would feature veterinary services, animal exercise yards, agility yards, a walking trail and a multipurpose room for training. The grounds would also include public and staff parking.

This shelter is proposed for a 2.8-acre, city-owned site that is currently zoned for industrial use. The property is part of the city’s existing corporation yard on the southwest corner of Iron Rock and Union Park ways, in the vicinity of Grant Line Road and Highway 99.

This facility, which is meant to control pet overpopulation, including un-owned, free-roaming, feral cats, would serve as the city’s first animal shelter. It would mainly house dogs and cats.

During the meeting, it was noted that the project’s total estimated capital cost of $16 million had been increased to an estimated $18 million.

Eric Wohle, one of the project’s architects, commented about that increase.

“(The cost) did go up,” he said. “That’s because when we do the program verification, there are things we need to account for. So, one of the things we were looking at had to do with circulation areas, making sure we added space for the staff and how they did their job. The other one is bringing animal control into this thing. This will be their home. So, before that wasn’t accounted for.”

In improving the project, about 1,800 square feet were ultimately added to this proposed facility.

Wohle noted that the proposed shelter plans were accessed based on three primary “driving goals”: improving the outcomes over the existing county shelter, having adequate capacity from day one, and having the ability to achieve future growth through designing phasing to increase the size of the facility in 30 to 40 years.

Bob Murdoch, the city’s public works director, said that the project would be funded through the sale of bonds from the city’s General Fund.

Murdoch added that the project would take further steps toward becoming a reality, if it obtains the City Council’s approval next month.

“If the City Council decides in May to approve (the project) to move forward, then we’ll get the financing in place and we’ll continue with the design,” he said. “We’ll bid it probably in December or January, and then it will take about 12 to 14 months to build. So, we’re looking at an opening in the spring of 2019.”

Prior to the council’s decision on this matter, the project will be reviewed by the Elk Grove Planning Commission.

Murdoch said that the proposed animal shelter is a necessity for Elk Grove.

“Elk Grove (has) about 170,000 people and it’s a facility that we need to have to provide services for the community,” he said. “Right now, we have a contract with the county (that ends in July 2019), and the county has days when they can’t accept any animals. So, (if) we build a facility like this, we’re going to be able to take care of our own.”

Wohle said that some citizens in Elk Grove have expressed frustration with how far they have to travel to the county animal shelter, which is located on Bradshaw Road, near Highway 50.

“The biggest thing that we’ve been hearing a lot is we have to go to Bradshaw (Road), which is way out in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “And if they’re full, you have to go even farther out. It almost discourages people to deal with the animals. So, by having it here (in Elk Grove), that’s one thing that will help the city and control the animal population.”

Cynthia Delany, animal shelter project consultant and one of the spokespersons in the meeting, described the proposed facility as a “model shelter” that would provide the most modern offerings.

“I think sheltering has changed a lot over the past 40 or 50 years,” she said. “So, we want to make sure that we are following what the industry is doing and looking into the future. We don’t want to just warehouse animals and put them to sleep. We want to serve the community in every way that we can.”

Delany added that one of the biggest goals for the Elk Grove facility would be to increase efforts to proactively unite pets with their original owners.

Plans for the Elk Grove animal shelter also include providing appropriate animal care such as high-quality housing, feeding, cleaning, low-stress environments and medical care.

Although Delany noted that the shelter has a “sad component,” she added that it would also be an inviting place where people would be welcome to visit and adopt pets.

“That’s a big component, and you’ll see that in a lot of the design,” she said. “It looks inviting, it has good lighting; it has good air circulation. And all those things, they’re important. They’re not superfluous. That helps the animals find a new home, if they need that.”

At the end of the meeting, attendees were presented with the opportunity to vote between two color options for the proposed animal shelter: bright yellow or dark blue. And of the 15 votes that were cast, 13 favored the bright yellow option.