Gilroy to spend $250,000 on new shelter for lost dogs

BETTER DOG DAYS COMING. Small cages and standup kennels, about a dozen, make up Gilroy's existing dog kennel near City Hall. It will be replaced, probably by the end of 2015, with a modern, new, $250,000, 800-square-foot, indoor facility with 14 large ken

Hundreds of Gilroy dogs prone to walkabouts and random episodes of AWOL are in for a treat when the city’s new dog kennel opens, possibly by year’s end.

A joint project of the Gilroy police and public works departments, the building will be the city’s first officials kennel and will include the most modern dog care equipment needed for temporary stays of up to five days.

“We are trying to build an actual facility designed from the ground up to do what it’s supposed to do,” said Capt. Scot Smithee of the GPD, whose animal control officer and other personnel staff the kennel.

Right now, the city makes due with what amounts to a dozen cages and small kennels to keep up with the steady flow of stray, wandering and lost dogs.

The new, 800 square-foot building will include 14 large kennels, sloped, epoxied floors for ease of cleaning, cooling and heating systems and plenty of ventilation.

The price tag: about $250,000.

For now, the city is not announcing the new kennel’s location. That is due mostly to problems in the past with dog owners snatching their animals back from the current kennel facility by jumping a fence to avoid paying fines, officials said.

“Owners sometimes try to get their dogs back without going through proper channels,” said Rick Smelser, Gilroy Public Works Director.

The new doggy den, designed by specialist at the architectural firm of Swatt & Miers of Emeryville, will be on city property and away from residences. The current, makeshift facility is near city hall and the barking of dogs has brought complaints from residents in the area, officials said.

The new location should solve that problem, they said.

A bid for the project was published on June 26 in the Gilroy Dispatch. Interested contractors have until 2 p.m. on July 14, 2015 to submit sealed bids.

Gilroy had to take over control of dogs in the city when the county’s animal control department stopped providing the service several years ago.

Since then, the stray and runaway dog situation in Gilroy has been no small issue and probably will grow as the population climbs, as it did this year, officially hitting 53,000 residents.

Last year, 411 dogs were rounded up or turned into the city. That’s about 34 canines a month or one a day.

The city keeps the strays for five days and, if not claimed by then, turns them over to the county for adoption or to be euthanized. The city does not do canine adoptions.

Smithee said the city does all it can to try to reunite lost dogs with their owners, including posting photos of the dogs on the department’s Facebook page.

And to help matters in the future, the new kennel will be equipped with a microchip scanning device capable of reading identity chips embedded under dogs’ skin, Smithee said.

And while dogs will get a new kennel, staffing for the facility will not increase. The city has one fulltime animal control officer, and so others in the police ranks have to chip in and help, even with feeding and cleaning, Smithee said.
They include community service officers and multi-service officers from the jail and, when no one else is available, even unassigned beat officers are pressed into service, he said.