Sheltering Berkeley's Animals
Lost, stray or unwanted animals often wind up at the animal shelter.
These animals are collected of city streets or sometimes brought
in by the community.
My name is Dona Spring and I want to share with you a recent visit
I made to the Berkeley Animal Shelter in May of this year. Most
residents are unaware that Berkeley supports an animal shelter.
Located on Second Street, near University Avenue and the Aquatic
Park, this west Berkeley facility has served the community since
This afternoon I arrived at the shelter to meet with Jane, who
has worked here for a number of years. Today she has offered to
show me around and discuss some of the problems confronting the
shelter and its operations.
first thing most visitors to the shelter notice is the antiquated
office and lobby. Its single entrance and small lobby area are
often filled with dogs, cats and their owners, which has made
for some very interesting encounters.
Fortunately, plans are in
place to renovate this portion of the shelter. Although capital
improvements are earmarked for this project, this amount will
fall short of solving the more serious problems facing this facility
that is sheltering Berkeley’s Animals.
The first thing that Jane and I did was inspect the back portion
of the shelter and inside the dog kennel. These rows of wire cages
are a reminder of how many animals are detained each year. These
cages have become torn and dilapidated over time. Damage has rendered
a number of them unsafe and unusable.
There is also a concern
about the cracks which have appeared in many of the concrete slab
cage floors. These cracks make it difficult to insure a sanitary
surface. Although there has been some attempt to remedy this problem, even
the fixes are falling apart.
As Jane leads me around the shelter,
I couldn't help but notice the poor accessibility and uneven
floor surfaces throughout the shelter. Such problems show how
outdated these buildings have become. I listened as Jane explained
her concerns about the lack of ventilation.
surprises most visitors is the high noise levels created by the
barking dogs. This is certainly hard on both the public and the
caged animals. This old shelter lacks any acoustic tiled surfaces
to suppress sound. As we move through the courtyard en route to
the cat room, we pass by the floor drain in the truck area.
“So Jane, Well, the cement….Are cleaned out. Everything
goes….drains to the Bay. We finally reached the cat room,
a very small and isolated building near the back of the property.
This is a favorite spot at the shelter for small visitors because
of the cute little kittens. Unfortunately, these kittens don’t
remain small for long.
The older and bigger animals have much
less chance for adoption and a much greater change of being put
to death. For so many animals, the shelter is their last stop.
The failure of owners to spay or neuter their pets result in many
unwanted animals ending up at the shelter. This impacts adoption,
reducing the chances of other boarders.
The main goal of the shelter is to place its resident animals
in good homes. Yet, the fact remains that each year Berkeley destroys
more animals than it manages to place into adoption. Over three
hundred cat and over three hundred dogs were put to death in 1995.
A larger and more modern facility would allow the shelter to hold
animals longer, which increases their chances of finding a home.
It is obvious from all the problems we’ve encountered that
the shelter needs to be replaced, not only for the comfort of
the animals and staff, but to facilitate the adoption and neutering
to reduce the unnecessary destruction of these animals.
are many ways to remedy this situation. You can urge your elected
representatives to act now in appropriating additional funds for
the shelter. If you would like to do more, your donations will
go directly to help the animals at the shelter.
Councilmenber Dona Spring's video "budget hearing " presentation
made at the Berkeley City Council May 1996.
Script/Video production: L A Wood