Correspondent

TRACY -- Plans for a new, larger animal shelter that could open by late 2014 have been approved by the city.

At 6,000 square feet, the new shelter will be almost three times the size of the current one. That new building would be phase one of the project. In years to come, phase two calls for a doubling of space to 12,000 square feet.

The total cost for the completed project is estimated at $4,723,000.

"(The) Council heard the community's need for the new animal shelter," said Councilman Charles Mann. "... Personally, I know my family is looking forward to visiting the new shelter when it opens and maybe there will be a new puppy in our future."

The council voted 4-0 on April 2 to approve a $402,000 contract with Indigo Hammond + Playle Architects of Davis to design the new shelter. Mayor Brent Ives was absent from the meeting.

The new shelter, to be built at the southwest corner of West Grant Line Road and South Paradise Avenue would replace the current one at 370 Arbor Road. The existing shelter was built more than 30 years ago as a temporary facility. Animal groups and local activists have lobbied for years for a new shelter, citing the quality of care and euthanasia rates.

"This shelter is long over due," said Rhonda Kooy, a shelter volunteer and board member of Noah's Ark Foundation. "Our current animal shelter is archaic in design and doesn't showcase the animals well. With the new design, these animals will have a better chance at being adopted.

"The new shelter will be more welcoming to visitors, opposed to our current one which sits right next to the wastewater treatment plant. The smell during the summer is too much for many people to handle and so they don't visit," she said.

The new facility will include a cat play room, where visitors can interact with them; a meet-and-greet play yard for dogs, indoor and outdoor dog kennels, an updated drainage system and modern equipment.

"We are mostly looking forward to more space to house more animals for longer periods of time," said Animal Control Officer Beth Palacios. "When we run out of space currently, we have to euthanize."

"This is a very exciting time for us," said Ben Miller, head of Animal Services. "We are really looking forward to more space. There are many benefits here to the new animal shelter and I think this will be good for the families in our community. The new shelter will be a much more pleasant place to visit."