By Carol Cassis
A new Newport Beach animal shelter will open next spring thanks to the fundraising efforts by the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter, according to recently-elected Newport Beach City Councilor Robyn Grant.
Funding for the new $3 million facility, which will be adjacent to the city’s current animal shelter on Riverside Drive, was exclusively from private donations through the friends non-profit, Grant said.
Fundraising began six years ago, when the existing shelter received a $50,000 donation from a donor, who asked to remain anonymous. After the donor received a thank you note from longtime shelter volunteer Jean Watt they sent an additional check a couple of days later for $600,000.
“We couldn’t believe it. The donor was just so unbelievably generous,” Grant told The Epoch Times. “We have the most giving residents in our community.”
Newport Beach Residents Doug and Eva Labon were also among the first wave of donors for the new shelter, pledging over $1.2 million for the project.
The new facility will provide a higher level of care in hopes of making abandoned or found dogs and cats “more adoptable,” according to former Newport Beach police lieutenant and shelter board member Tom Fischbacher.
“Our shelter provides for all the basic needs of the animals, like food and shelter, but even the littlest extra resources go a very long way in helping them be more comfortable, which will help them get adopted more quickly,” he said.
Upgrades for the new facility include soundproofing between visitors and the animals, water-efficient cleaning systems and sewage drains, and “state-of-the-art” temperature-controlled kennels.
The new site will also have an expanded outdoor play area for the animals, able to be repurposed for additional boardings if needed.
The new facility and its land will be deeded by the friends nonprofit Dec. 14 to the city, and will continue to be operated by the Newport Beach Police Department.
It’s unclear what will happen to the old facility. But according to officials, the city will now save over $6,000 a month in rent and fees it has paid for the old facility over the years.
Among the animals that will call the new shelter home is “Kibbie,” a one-eyed chihuahua mix not eligible for adoption due to pre-existing conditions. Known by shelter staff for “winking at the ladies,” Kibbie serves as one of the shelter’s unofficial mascots.
The promise of a new shelter, officials said, has also helped with recruiting, bringing in over 500 new volunteers, since the project’s inception.