Plans for animal-friendly shelter too slow for some advocates
by Glenn Moore
May 17, 2013 | 2928 views | 8 8 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The plan to build a modern animal shelter in north Tracy in two years was discussed at meeting Monday, May 13 at Tracy City Hall — but some residents don’t feel that timeline is quick enough.

The shelter design team — including members of the city engineering and police departments, architects and consultants — laid out an “aggressive” timeline for constructing the new shelter on an acre of land at the corner of Paradise and Grant Line roads.

There has been a developing need for a new shelter because the facility at 370 Arbor Ave. is unable to accommodate a growing number of animals.

Bruce Playle, of Indigo Hammond & Playle Architects, said the first phase of the 6,000-square-foot shelter should be completed by mid-2015.

Another public meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 5 at City Hall Room 203, 333 Civic Center Drive, will show the conceptual plans for the shelter’s design.

Lani Smith, support operations division manager for the police department, said the design team hopes to send recommendations to the City Council on June 18 for final approval.

Playle said that, once approved, he expected the plans to be completed and out for construction bid by February.

Construction could take a year to 14 months, Playle said, a schedule that frustrated many residents in the audience.

Pam Summers, a volunteer with Animal Rescue of Tracy, said animals will suffer until the new building is complete.

“Our frustration is in the animals we will lose between now and then because we don’t have room,” Summers said. “We’re such a huge city now, we have so many more animals — we have such a small capacity. So many animals have to be euthanized or moved right away because we fill up in a day.”

Ripon Bhatia, a senior city engineer and project manager for the new shelter, said the process was moving as fast as possible.

“This is an aggressive schedule for an animal shelter,” Bhatia said. “It takes about a year for a building this size.”

Design team member Martha Seng, of Jackson & Ryan Architects — a company that designs animal shelters across the country — said addressing animal care needs for the new shelter takes time.

“Your shelter … is going to be specific to your community,” she said. “That’s one reason the design process takes the time that it does. We want it to answer your needs.”

Seng said four goals were addressed in the design, with the adoption of animals as the top priority.

“We know what will promote adoptions, what will drive people to your shelter and make them come and want to adopt one of your animals,” she said. “This is going to be a building about animals.”

The No. 1 goal, she said, is to make the shelter an animal-friendly destination.

Kate Hurley, from the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at University of California, Davis, said the shelter will focus on meeting the animals’ needs, both physical and behavioral.

Hurley is a member of the design team and specializes in shelter care for animals.

“The budget is modest, but we are not making compromises for the animals,” she said.

Design features such as larger kennels and access to the outside should help reduce stress for dogs at the shelter.

Cats will have two-sided cages, giving them separate areas for eating and using the bathroom — a change from the cramped cages at the existing shelter.

Hurley said lowering stress for the animals means they will behave better and have a greater chance of getting adopted.

Other housing features planned for the new shelter include a separate area for feral cats, a bath and grooming space for dogs and a dedicated place for dogs and cats to meet potential new owners.

A 2,500-square-foot run space will provide an area for dogs to exercise.

“We are making sure phase one gives you all your basic needs,” said Playle, the architect. “We can only expect animals to be adopted if we can draw people in.”

Plans for an exam room and hospital will wait for the second phase of construction, which will add an additional 6,000-square-foot building and increase the property to more than two acres.

No funding or timeline for the second phase of construction has been set.

With the new shelter still nearly two years away, visitors at the meeting asked about other options or temporary buildings to help with crowded kennels until the new shelter opens.

Animal control supervisor Ben Miller said he and others are working as fast as possible through the planning process.

“We’re pushing this through as quickly as we can from our side,” Miller said. “I can promise everyone in this room that we are building the best project we can for the money we have.”

At the June 5 meeting, three designs will be discussed, including specific interior details.

The design team will take the three proposals to City Council and give recommendations on the project at the June 18 council meeting.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or
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May 17, 2013
actually, shelter advocates are VERY MUCH about propagation mitigation! Spay/neuter is a huge thing with animal shelter's...Modesto even has vets on staff that do all of the surgeries on their shelter animals! No animal leaves the shelter without being "fixed"...and if they had the funding, I'd bet they'd be happy to figure out a way to help people get their own animals fixed!

unfortunately, with the advent of pet insurance, the cost of medical procedures a spay is now over $100 and a neuter is about $75 or so at most vets. For people who don't have the money...that's not very feasible...and for people who don't care...well free would be too pricy.

I too have barking dogs...drives me nuts. There is a 3 pet limit in Tracy (only 2 of the 3 can be dogs), but there is some confusion with the TPD about the limits. I've had situations where they said something different even though I was looking at the law online. :-/

Long and short of it is...the shelter is a mess...the people are great but understaffed, so when there are barking dogs...there's not much that can be done. I hate it too...but I'd rather talk to my neighbors and have a good shelter!
May 17, 2013
Barking dogs do not bother me as much as it does other people. Why do we think that a barking dog is a problem? Sometimes dogs like to walk other times they like to bark. Let them be dogs. Having said this, I am aware that incessant barking can be a nuisance, but some times people do not know the difference between a dog being a dog and a dog incessantly barking. And some dogs are just barkers. If you adopt a dog from the shelter and it barks a lot, it is not fair to put a shock collar on the dog. Take them for a walk instead.
May 17, 2013
By the way. The shelter is not a mess. It was designed years ago and it is just time for an upgrade because we simply outgrew it. Saying it is a mess just shows you do not know what you are talking about. There happens to be several groups in Tracy who foster home dogs and they work around the clock and tirelessly with the shelters. The animal shelter should be awarded an excellence in animal care for their efforts as they have a very low rate of kills due to all the hard work. Get a clue.
May 17, 2013
One final comment from me on this matter, directed to TracyCalifornia:

First, I know the difference between an incessantly barking dog and one that isn't. I suppose my observation would be, in good conscience, why would a dog owner think it appropriate to impose his incessantly barking dog on his neighbors? Second, to say "let them be dogs" isn't a reason to justify a dog owner's inconsideration. Ought we to let murders and pedophiles and rapists be "murderers and pedophiles and rapists"?

Do you know contemporary neuroscience is telling us pedophilia in many cases isn't a choice, like homosexuality isn't a choice?

Our culture has become so distorted, animal rights infringe upon human rights. Last, you say some dogs are "just barkers." You know what my recommendation is for a dog that is just a barker?

Stay inside and be quiet.
May 20, 2013

for starters...I DO have a clue. I donate food to the shelter regularly, I've adopted a cat through them and I even thwarted a catnapper there one day! So...contrary to your belief...I DO have a clue.

It is a mess...not through any fault of it's own, which I should've stated. It's's next to a sewer's basically suffering the same fate as many of the pets it takes in...NEGLECT! I'm a huge fan of the folks that work there...they do something that I could never do (I'd end up with so many animals I'd be on a tv show...and not in a good way!)...and they save lives (and in some cases they make animals lives better by setting them free to a better place).

Instead of casting aspersions on others (that you do not know!) and tell them to "get a clue"...why don't you try to educate them? If you truly felt that I was a moron and knew nothing...why not try to teach me instead of insulting me? Instead of learning and respecting you, I know don't care a whit about any of your opinions. Your posting was a fail for helping me "get a clue."

which, by the way, I already had...thanks! :-)
May 20, 2013
oh and the barking? occasional barking = not a problem...the dog that barks for hours on end? a problem. sadly, the shelter staff isn't always able to get out and take care of it...and by the time they get there, the dog has actually stopped. We have dogs (owned dogs) that wander our neighborhood using everyone's lawn (except their owner's!) for their toilets. They've mostly been picked up quite regularly by the animal control folks...but there's not much you can do about bad owners. They exist...and by the logic of tracycalifornia...we should "let them be" just like we let dogs be dogs.

yes, dogs, you don't need a shock collar...but you DO need to maintain your pets. If you dog barks and you hear it...bring it inside, go see what it needs, take it for a walk...but don't just ignore it! If I hear a barking dog and then someone bringing it in or telling it to hush...I'm impressed...because that is a good pet owner! Too many just ignore and let them bark to their hearts content (I had one next door...emphasis on had...thankfully!).

you don't just "let them be"...we are their caretakers and as such we must take care of them...same goes for kids. "let them be" is an attitude that's causing issues with pets and with kids these days in my opinion.
May 17, 2013
While I completely understand the frustrations that many feel about the delays, let’s be thankful that our much needed new shelter is finally becoming a reality.

In the meantime, check and see what items that you can donate to the shelter like a nice warm blanket. When you’re at the mall during the weekend, stop by Animal Rescue of Tracy, next to Macy’s, and if you can afford to do so put some spare change in the donation box that goes to feeding and paying vet bills. Every little bit helps. Also if you have time just say thank you and that you appreciate the time and effort the many volunteers give.

Have a safe and great weekend everyone!

May 17, 2013
Stop the propagation. The Animal Shelter advocates aren't about mitigating the propagation of animals in our community. They are hypocrites. If they had their way, the City would have five animal shelters and all of them would be like resorts.

The article reports: "There has been a developing need for a new shelter because the facility at 370 Arbor Ave. is unable to accommodate a growing number of animals."

Tell me what advocates are doing to attenuate this situation because my neighborhood is like an animal shelter with the barking of dogs all day and the answer isn't for everyone to own 4 dogs. This isn't environmentally sustainable or responsible.

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