By April 2023, the Pet Project Foundation aims to unveil renovations to the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter that will provide a more calming environment for its population of furry friends.
Construction of the $350,000 project kicked off in early January with the demolition of half of the shelter’s kennels.
Pet Project Foundation Chair Vickie McMurchie explained that she looks at the PPF as the fundraising arm of the local animal shelter. Thanks to funding from the Pet Project Foundation, the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter, run by the Coastal Animal Services Authority, can remain a pro-humane, no-kill shelter, McMurchie explained.
“A big reason for (the renovation) is to be able to provide the best possible safe refuge for these animals while they’re with us,” McMurchie said.
McMurchie said she feels as if the improvements will not only be more aesthetically pleasing and more functional, but “also—with some planned improvements to the yard, etcetera—behaviorally, it’ll be better for the dogs, as well for calming their anxiety and just trying to make them more adoptable.”
After demolishing half of the kennels along one side of the shelter, Pet Project Foundation plans to replace the floors and put in brand-new kennels. The foundation will replace both the shelter and kennel flooring, create more barriers between each kennel to help decrease anxiety among the dogs, and implement a new system for quarantining dogs from other shelters.
“The entire project is estimated to take about three months, and it’s going to cost the Pet Project Foundation approximately $350,000, which we have committed to the shelter,” McMurchie said.
The foundation will replace one side of the kennels at a time so as not to displace the entire dog population, McMurchie said.
“The new kennels will look a lot like the existing structure that we currently have, but with more stainless steel that is going to stand up to rusting in our coastal atmosphere better,” McMurchie said.
Funding for the renovations is an ongoing process, McMurchie explained.
“So, we are committed to providing the funds, which, as we’re paying for it, it’s come from our generous donors throughout the years,” McMurchie said.
“But we’ll be fundraising off of the project as well, and offering people the opportunity to be able to honor a loved one or a loved pet in some capacity with the project by sponsoring a permanent kennel.”
The kennels that Pet Project Foundation are replacing are 25 years old, McMurchie explained.
“A lot of the kennels themselves became rusted, or the mechanisms inside of them just wore down and became unusable, and we had a good percentage of kennels that became unusable because they were unsafe for either the dogs or our volunteers,” McMurchie said.
“Recognizing that we are working with a shelter that looks to assist as much of our lost and abandoned animals of San Clemente and Dana Point as possible, we knew that this was something that couldn’t be ignored any longer,” McMurchie continued.
Pet Project Foundation looked to begin the renovation efforts in 2019. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation paused the project for the foreseeable future, “not knowing what the future of donations and fundraising would look like,” McMurchie said.
“Luckily for us, we fared pretty well through the pandemic, as far as our supporters stepping up and continuing to support us and help us meet our fundraising goals,” McMurchie added. “So, it’s something that we were able to prioritize once again, once we felt comfortable in the fact that we would be able to meet our basic fundraising needs for the year.”
Every year, Pet Project Foundation commits to spending $400,000 for the animal shelter, with funds going toward paying for food, dog trainers, medical treatments and procedures and a portion of staffing for the kennel attendants.
The foundation pays for animals to be spayed and neutered, as well as receive vaccinations and life-saving medical procedures. The foundation will continue to pay for medical treatment past the adoption date to ensure that the animal’s medical conditions don’t preclude the pet’s adoption.
In addition to financially supporting the shelter, Pet Project Foundation also supplies and trains roughly 125 volunteers who spend their time at the shelter, “working in the dog yards, cat room, rabbit area and the front office,” McMurchie said.
All the Pet Project Foundation’s support of the shelter helps keep it a pro-humane, no-kill shelter.
“Pet Project Foundation is 100% volunteer-run, so there’s literally no staff,” McMurchie said. “Everything is run by volunteers, so all the monies that I’ve mentioned are raised by people just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.”
There are lots of ways to get involved and support the Pet Project Foundation, McMurchie said.
“From donating, volunteering, to committing to running a fundraiser, to attending one of our events, you can foster an animal and, of course, you can adopt animals,” McMurchie said. “So, there’s kind of no shortage of ways to get involved.”
Pet Project Foundation aims to complete the renovations by this April.
Pet Project Foundation’s next fundraising event will be at the Festival of Whales in Dana Point on March 4. The foundation’s Whales, Tails and Ales event features dog-friendly vendors, local craft brewers, live music and more.
“The entire event is a fundraiser for Pet Project Foundation,” McMurchie said. “We will also be back with Barks and Brews at the Outlets in San Clemente this summer, as well as our annual fall gala, which will take place on Sept. 10.”