Posted on May 28, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Pets Lifeline’s sparkling new home, an ultra-modern installation on the grounds of the former Eighth Street East structure in Sonoma, is a huge upgrade from the previous incarnation, a mishmash of sheds, chain link trailer and kennels.
It offers more space for more dogs and cats, more comfort, more light, more clinical capacity, more workspace for staff and volunteers, and a whole new set of word games.
Everything about animals invites dopey puns. And Pet lifeline has never hesitated to invoke the stupidest to assert his point of view. The motto of the fundraising campaign to finance the reconstruction was “Raise the Woof”. The huge upstairs area for felines, Catlandia, opens up to a secure outdoor area – this is the catio. With his own meow.
Always quick to laugh, General Manager Nancy King enjoys the bright side, the warm and the fuzzy, but day-to-day animal rescue and relocation is serious business. Since 1982, the nonprofit has been the only animal shelter in the Sonoma Valley, rehabilitating and finding homes for stray or abandoned cats and dogs (approximately 20,000 and over).
But this important work was hampered by the outdated, outdated and inefficient facility. It lacked space and comfort not only for animals, but also for humans, who had to worry about things like adequate bathrooms.
King knew things had to change. In order for the organization to become truly sustainable, it needed a serious upgrade. She first pitched the idea for a new building to her board in 2013. Then came years of feasibility studies, needs assessments, design reviews, budgets and plans. funding. In June 2017, the whole project had legs. Four legs. The consensus, King said, was “Let’s do this.”
The old building came down at the end of 2019. Pets Lifeline moved to temporary quarters – a set of trailers on Lower Broadway – and construction on Eight Street East was underway.
There are still workers around and lodges in the halls, but the move to the new campus is complete. The dogs are here, in their stylish indoor / outdoor kennels. And the cats, pampered, of course. The staff move in: King finally has a real office, and even the volunteers have box spaces. There are docking and docking stations, beautiful wide hallways, and a multi-purpose room to use for training sessions, educational events, and other gatherings. (It can be deployed as a shelter, for people and their pets, in an emergency).
The new facility increases capacity from 13 dogs and 52 cats to 20 dogs and 75 cats, and the building approximately doubles the old 5,000 square foot footprint.
“It’s a healthier environment for the animals,” King says. A state-of-the-art sanitation system keeps things clean, and more space means animals are less stressed. Both contribute to a shorter length of stay. “Habitats are essential. Animals are our priority.
Outside a nice big lawn for the dogs to express themselves, rolling around in the grass, grabbing the zoomies, or, you know. The building is smart and ecological. Green certified. Low water landscaping. Solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system, a “vermiculture” system where kennel waste is processed through four levels of microbial bacteria, becoming worm food and compost. And look – a real paved parking lot.
Back inside, there is a clinic with rooms for admission, isolation, exams and surgery. Back in the old location, there was no room for an isolation kennel. “All we had was warning tape.”
King can’t really believe the extent of the upgrade and improvement. “It’s really exciting,” she says. “I stand here, close my eyes and imagine what we can do.”
Pets Lifeline is currently open by appointment only, at 19686 Eight St. East in Sonoma. 707.996.4577. Petslifeline.org.
Annie Robichaud’s sun photos