El Cajon begins construction of new animal shelter

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It took 13 years for this project to become reality. Proposed in 2004, the new animal shelter in El Cajon broke ground last week on a lot close to the existing shelter, with Mayor Bill Wells at hand to hold the shovel joined by several council members, the construction company contracted for the job, the architects, media and public.

It took 13 years for this project to become reality. Proposed in 2004, the new animal shelter in El Cajon broke ground last week on a lot close to the existing shelter, with Mayor Bill Wells at hand to hold the shovel joined by several council members, the construction company contracted for the job, the architects, media and public.

Double in size compared with the existing shelter built in the 1960’s, the new facility leaves room for future expansions and will be able to host over 100 animals with much larger spaces for people to interact with the ones they want to adopt, an exercise area for the pets, veterinary services on site, even grooming services, play areas and more.

Mayor Wells, an animal lover himself, said he is very happy that East County will have such a modern facility for animals that will continue to provide adoption services as well. Councilmember Ben Kalasho expressed similar thoughts, pointing out the need for this addition to East County. Jennifer Boyd with East County Chamber of Commerce thinks that “the current shelter is outdated and in need of an improvement. Coming together and getting this project up and going will definitely be an asset to El Cajon and the entire East County region.”

Right now, the current facility is an open-admission shelter, accepting animals from El Cajon and La Mesa. So far, only the city of La Mesa has a contract for animal services, with Santee and Lemon Grove announcing their interest.

The new shelter will have a “no kill” policy. Based on Asilomar Accords Statistics, “The City of El Cajon has one of the largest survival rates in the nation for a government run animal shelter.  All healthy (medical and behavior) animals are adopted.  Treatable animals are treated and are placed up for adoption.  Animals euthanized are animals, which would be a danger to the public or suffering and not treatable.” 

This new facility comes with a price tag of $9.3 million and the final cost may reach $11 million. The funding comes from Proposition O, a special tax increased approved back in 2004 and collected by 2015. The rest of the funds were used to build a Public Safety Center. 

The new animal shelter is expected to open in the fall of 2018. For the animal lovers who want to help the existing shelter in the meantime there is a need for volunteers and people can contact the shelter directly on N. Marshal street and check the Facebook page “El Cajon Animal Shelter” if interested in adopting a pet.

Peggy Buffo, who runs the nonprofit Aces Foundation, announces “a fundraiser coming up June 15 at the downtown café in El Cajon to assist our nonprofit and the animals at the shelter.”