By Mike Kinney
The Pinole Animal Shelter’s closure has become permanent as part of County efforts to respond to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shelter located at 910 San Pablo Ave. had been temporarily closed since March due to the shelter-in-place orders. At its meeting Aug. 11, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a recommendation by Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) Director Beth Ward to close the Pinole shelter permanently and to consolidate services at the Martinez shelter. The closure was among a lengthy list of savings measures approved for dozens of county departments to close a $35 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2020-2021.
The 5,550 square foot Pinole location opened as a satellite shelter in 2005, shortly after the 38,600-square-foot shelter in Martinez debuted. The smaller shelter intended to provide West County residents convenient access to county animal services.
CCAS had struggled to adequately fund and staff both the Pinole and Martinez shelters even before the pandemic. Closing the Pinole location enables CCAS to cut staff positions that are currently vacant and focus existing staff and resources to support the Martinez shelter, according to Ward’s report to the Board.
The Pinole shelter was described as physically limited, offering no medical staff, medical treatment space or exercise areas for dogs.
“All exercise requires volunteers to walk dogs on busy San Pablo Avenue and other city streets,” Ward said. “The facility also lacks an appropriate medical treatment room to allow for sedation, examination, and treatments to be performed on site.”
It also isn’t ADA compliant, has an unsafe lobby layout and lacks a public restroom facility and staff break room, Ward said.
Meanwhile, animal intake at shelters are down amid the pandemic, with shelters nationally seeing a 24 percent decrease in intakes in the first six month of 2020 and CCAS seeing a decrease of 38 percent.
“We may see an increase again in the next 6 months but new approaches to intake programs and renewed focus on keeping pets with families, foster placements for sheltering will help to keep our population at 80 percent of capacity of the Martinez Shelter or lower,” Ward’s report states.
The County owns half of the commercial property where the Pinole shelter was housed and intends to sell the facility.