Animal shelter planning improvements |

Animal shelter planning improvements

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / To help prevent the spread of sickness, a new isolation area for cats is planned in the remodel of the county's animal shelter.

MEYERS – Animal lovers seeking a pet at the pound may soon enjoy less pounding of their ears.

As part of El Dorado County’s major plans to remodel its 30-year-old animal shelter in Meyers in late May, the fencing between the kennels are set to be replaced with a “Dutch door” look that includes a solid wall at dog level and glass above that. In theory, the new walls should muffle the deafening barking sound so people will be able to see their prospective pet through the glass. Ear muffs now hang in the small office area for staff.

The county has set aside $880,000 to expand and spruce up the rundown facility on Shakori Drive. Without the price tag to buy the lot next door, the cost should drop down to $600,000 if the seller bargains with the local government.

Under the 5-year plan, the county wants to make animals available for adoption more presentable and comfortable and improve the working conditions of staff and volunteers.

“We’re excited. We look forward to having a better environment for the animals and us,” said Sherry Farrens, animal care specialist.

For those seeking their next dog, the sound in the kennels can be deafening. People don’t spend as long as they could for such a critical decision, and parents refrain from exposing their frightened children to the noise, Farrens explained Wednesday.

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The remodel will change all that.

Improvements include a redesign in the backside kennels, so people who tend to the dogs don’t hit their heads. The ceiling in the work area drops to 5 feet, creating a safety hazard. The staff even padded one low beam to reduce workplace accidents.

The backside also needs a rework of the floor, where urine and feces travel in the trough from one kennel to another.

The plan also calls for a quarantine area. Farrens said it’s now a constant struggle to keep one sick animal from infecting another – especially during kitten season, which comes up late this month.

In addition, a new heating system is on tap as the building’s boiler often breaks down. And staff awaits an added restroom to the one that everyone now shares.

As for the animals, cats and dogs are proposed to each have a public viewing space at the front lobby in a meet-and-greet setting. The front entrance needs a revamp to accommodate visitors, including the disabled, who try to negotiate the ice that collects in the driveway. And inside the building, there are water leaks and a new roof is necessary.

The dog run next to the structure may be extended if the county can negotiate buying the lot next door. Through the area’s banner winter months, high snow on some days prohibited the animals from going out.

In Tahoe, adoptions remain consistent and euthanizations are down – with success stories from pet lovers dotting one of the walls of the shelter.

“We only euthanize (these days) for their health and temperament. Having this small shelter allows us to hang on to them longer,” Farrens said.

A bill signed into law in 1998 made it mandatory for shelters to hold the animals for at least five days, as part of a movement of humane animal treatment in the United States. With that, county Chief of Animal Control Henry Brzezinski said the massive improvements are much needed to maintain a better way of living for the animals and those who care about them.

All it takes is a trip to the shelter to look into the eyes of a kept animal to see and feel the need, animal advocates point out.

Farrens stressed how she’s always seeking volunteers. The animal control office provides volunteer orientations on Wednesday nights and Saturdays. Call (530) 577-1766 for more details.