In the “Who Saved Who?” Debate, Everybody Wins

John Zorich

April 20, 2017

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

The existing 40+-year-old shelter had several makeshift buildings, was loud and overcrowded, and lacked natural light and good ventilation. Let’s just say the facility was not “warm and fuzzy”…even if the animals were. Adoptions were minimal, attracting volunteers was a challenge, and fostering positive attitudes among staff was difficult at best. Simply put…the shelter had gone to the dogs. What a grrreat day it was when the new Placer County Animal Services Center (PCASC) was operational.

B4012 Placer County Animal Services Center, 2014-2016 (PCASC)

Placer County Animal Services Center

The 29,500-square-foot, two-story, LEED Gold facility is a welcome destination that not only supports the animals, but the humans looking to serve or adopt them. The connection between animals and people is a focus of our animal care facility design. Paying careful attention to the wellness of both, Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture and Animal Arts Design Studios, Inc., integrated the latest best practices for disease and odor control, as well as acoustics to promote health, reduce stress, and create a calming environment. It seems to be working.

“The animals transformed in the first 15 minutes of being in the new building. It was amazing to watch. We saw the dogs and cats go from stressed, nervous, pacing, or downright depressed, to quieter and happier. They are finally able to just relax and be animals.”― Wesley Nicks, Director of Animal Services

There’s No Place Like Home

Chelsea’s “forever” guy saw her picture online and drove all the way from San Jose to get her. Chelsea couldn't wait to jump into his back seat!

Chelsea’s “furever” guy saw her picture online and drove all the way from San Jose to get her. Chelsea jumped right into his back seat!

Take Chelsea, a Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix about 13 years old. Although “vocal” in her kennel, staff says she is an easy-going dog with the best personality…once you let her out. So they did. That couldn’t have happened before. The large, separately-accessible outdoor agility yard designed for volunteers to work, walk, and play with resident dogs and cats gave Chelsea the chance to make a great first impression, and a lasting one.

This is just one of hundreds of happy adoption stories. In fact, since opening in October, cat adoptions are up 103% and dog adoptions increased by 66%.

In addition, the new Center has also benefited other communities. PCASC assisted local shelters and residents from Butte County, housing animals during the recent Oroville Dam flood evacuation. All were accommodated either inside the facility or outside in the barn and paddock equipped to house horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, and goats.

Placer County Animal Services Center.

Placer County Animal Services Center

Rescue Workers Sometimes Need Rescuing, Too

Placer County Animal Services cares for thousands of animals each year. It’s an inordinate amount of work and a tough job. Yes, there’s joy when Scrappy found a new home or lost pets find their owners, but it’s stressful, too. We designed this facility with their welfare in mind as well.

For example, efficient operational flow is extremely important for multiple reasons, including employee efficiency. Reducing extra steps taken by each person each day and creating flexible circulation options help contribute to the safety and well-being of staff and animal control officers.

“With the new Center, employee morale has greatly improved. We have also experienced a dramatic increase in the number of community members who want to join our volunteer program.” ―
Katie Ingram, Animal Services Manager

People have a lot of misconceptions about animal shelters. Just think about the old facility in Auburn. Changing these misconceptions begins with facilities like this. The moment visitors arrive, they enter a wellness center, a place where animal’s lives are changed…and so are the live’s of the people who care for and adopt them. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that.

“Whoever saves a life, saves the world entire.” —The Talmud

The Placer County Animal Services Center is located at 11232 B Avenue in Auburn / 530-886-5541

More on the history of this project here.


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