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Party with FAAS at Newly Renovated Digs

Welcome back, doggies! After a month of being shut down for sorely needed upgrades to kennels and floors, the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) facility at 1590 Fortmann Way will reopen on Saturday, April 8, with a ribbon-cutting party that will include shelter tours, refreshments, and adoptable animals. The festivities begin at 1 p.m., when Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft will cut the ceremonial ribbon and the shelter will officially reopen.

Alameda Post - a graphic that says "You're invited Grand Reopening and Adoption Day"

FAAS alerted the public at the beginning of February that the shelter would have to be emptied and all of the dogs would need to be adopted or moved to foster homes by the beginning of March in order to complete the renovations. The upgrades involved changing out the dog runs with modern, state-of-the-art kennels, and installing a new flooring system, FAAS CEO John L. Lipp explained. The new kennels also are sound-reducing and bacteria-resistant. The upgrades were a long time coming and are very important to the health and safety of the animals, volunteers, and staff.

“Our facility was built in 1984, so it’s almost 40 years old,” Lipp said. “It was originally built, sadly, to be a pound. Back then, they thought the function of animal control was basically to get animals off the street, hold them for as little amount of time as possible, and euthanize them.” That idea is completely opposite to what FAAS stands for today. “Through our volunteers and staff and all of our community programs, we’ve been turning it from a pound to an adoption center,” Lipp said. 



Alameda Post - a collage of photos of people working on the old kennels to reburbish them
There was a lot of work to do, and many people stepped up to get the job done. Photos John L. Lipp.

FAAS has become a shining example of protection and care of animals, but the facility itself was in need of more than a little TLC. So Lipp started working with the City to make some changes. In 2019, they opened the Cat Experience annex at South Shore Center, a free-roam space where people can interact with cats and kittens—and a few bunny rabbits—that are available for adoption. “We get the cats over there as soon as they’re cleared for adoption,” Lipp said. “Over there, they’re so much calmer… they get adopted a lot faster.”

Then Lipp started working toward upgrading the dog kennels. He started going to animal welfare conferences, where there are vendors who specialize in animal housing. He met a vendor who showed him examples of how they could rip out and replace old kennels and make a transformative change. It would cost about $100,000. 

“We were talking with the City,” Lipp said, “and finally, after a couple of false starts, we got money in the budget.” That was back in 2021. Ultimately, with supply chain issues and such, the cost jumped to about $100,000 more than the initial bid, so Lipp had to go back to the City and ask for more. Ultimately, the project cost about $250,000. 

Alameda Post - Bear's-Eye View of Alameda for March 6, 2023 – Mouf and his human companion at the Alameda Animal Shelter
Mouf and his human companion Jeff Cambra visited FAAS before the renovations. Photo John L. Lipp.
Alameda Post - the brand new kennels at FAAS
The new kennels are safer and cleaner for both residents and caretakers. Photo Adam Gillitt.

To complete the renovations, FAAS worked with several national and local vendors, including Shor-Line Kennels, Permatek/Midmark Flooring, SK Installations, AT Weber, Sweet Lemon Moving, and Trejo Painting. “The project was managed by FAAS with primary funding provided by the City of Alameda and additional funding from generous donors,” Lipp said.

At the end of the February, some of the dogs were temporarily moved to Urban Cowgirl Ranch in Castro Valley, a nonprofit ranch with horses and livestock. But there were still a few dogs who needed foster homes. Jeff Cambra and Mouf went to the shelter the last day before it shut down, Lipp said, and Cambra offered to buy dinner—a $100 gift certificate for a local restaurant—for anyone who would foster a dog for a month. 

Alameda Post - the outdoor side of the kennels
Dogs can enjoy fresh air whenever they please in their individual outdoor runs. Photo Adam Gillitt.

With the help of other donors and volunteers, FAAS was able to take care of some of the painting and plumbing work. They also were able to redo the floors in their offices, which were concrete, old, and as Lipp said, “disgusting.” Finally, they had the parking lot redone because it was full of potholes and flooded on a regular basis. Next up: Installing a new front gate for security. That probably will happen within two or three months, Lipp hopes.

Talking with Lipp, it’s obvious how grateful he is for all the support FAAS receives on an ongoing basis. On this occasion, he expressed his gratitude to all those who helped with the shelter renovation: “FAAS would like to thank our foster families, Urban Cowgirl Ranch, the City of Alameda, South Shore Shopping Center, Bear’s-Eye View of Alameda, our amazing staff and volunteers, and the community for supporting this renovation—40 years in the making!”  

Alameda Post - the sign for Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter
Mark your calendars for the party on April 8! Photo Adam Gillitt.

Liz Barrett is the Copy Editor of the Alameda Post and writes about our community. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Liz-Barrett.

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