The County's existing animal shelter is now outdated and inconsistent with the current understanding of humane animal sheltering.
The County's existing animal shelter is now outdated and inconsistent with the current understanding of humane animal sheltering.

New Animal Shelter Project Moves Forward

Author: Administrative Office
Date: 8/29/2018 11:54:42 AM

The County is moving forward in partnership with local cities to replace the existing 43-year-old public animal shelter.


The planned new 15,000- to 16,000-square-feet Animal Services facility for San Luis Obispo County will be designed and built near the existing facility just off Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

The new, cost-effective design will reduce stress levels for animals and humans alike; allow for the humane care of animals in the County’s care; support the shelter’s already strong community volunteer program; incorporate state-of-the-art cleaning, plumbing and mechanical systems as well as durable materials to enhance the life of the facility; and more.

This summer, the County Board of Supervisors and all seven City Councils from partner cities approved changes to the original 2017 agreement for the estimated $13.7 million project. Now, the people of San Luis Obispo County can expect a continued regional approach to public animal services in the coming years. Notable changes to the agreement include:

  1. The County will take on the first $1 million of total project costs to help ease the financial burden to partner cities.
  2. The County and partner cities will create an ad hoc committee consisting of members of the County Board of Supervisors and local city mayors to address operations issues that may arise.
  3. The County will take proactive steps to reduce ongoing countywide animal services costs, including targeted education campaigns; proactive programs, such as catch, spay/neuter and release programs; proactive licensing and licensing enforcement; and more.

Why a New Animal Shelter?

Today’s industry standards and public expectations of animal shelters have shifted substantially since the shelter was originally built around 1975. Many of the existing shelter’s original design features and characteristics are now outdated or inconsistent with the current understanding of humane animal shelter and care facilities. In addition, the existing facility was not designed to handle the current number of animals being housed there.

The outdated design of the existing facility – combined with the effects of the land, the high volume of animals being housed there, deferred maintenance, and heavy use – affect sheltered animals and the people visiting and working there.

The building has been outgrown and has outlived its useful life, as evidenced by a leaky roof, deteriorating wall and door frames, and overloaded electrical and drainage systems. The lack of heating, poor ventilation, and general facility layout contributes to stress, illness, and behavioral problems in sheltered animals.

At the same time, the austere and unwelcoming environment often discourages the public from visiting the shelter, limiting adoption and stray reclaim rates.

When it was first built, the shelter was originally intended primarily for the kenneling of dogs, with less than 38 square feet dedicated to the care and housing of cats; no accommodations were made for other types of animals.

The County has modified the existing building over time by adding dog runs adjacent to the kennels, corrals for ranch animals, a small structure for cats, night drop-off kennels, expanded staff administration areas, and a renovation for the public lobby. However, the site of the shelter was previously used as a landfill in the 1940s, which has caused significant problems at the facility and hampered any attempts to address the shelter’s deterioration over the years.

This project will replace the current deficient building with a suitable one that will allow for the humane care of the animals in the County’s care for years to come.

The County will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new shelter project in mid-2019.

Get more information about the Animal Services facility project.