By Mickey Zeldes
You are invited to a celebration of the completion of our renovation. We are having a grand opening party to show off our new kitten room, our Cool Cat Lounge and our indoor dog visiting room. We certainly hope you will join us on Saturday, April 15 at 1:30 p.m., when Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie will cut the ribbon to our new cage-less kitten room. There will be refreshments and raffle prizes, and all adult animals over 3 years old will be free.
This has been a project in the works for more than two years – no surprise to anyone who works in government or has done a home remodel. You know upfront to double the cost estimate and triple the amount of time quoted. It was a labor of love – and frustration – and to see it completed is a joy. There was the budgeting and approval process, which goes at a snail’s pace. This was a collaborative effort where the City of Rohnert Park paid for the demolition of the existing room and the base cost of making the room useable, and the Animal Shelter League raised the funds to purchase the new material to create the enclosures and all the furnishings.
Just finding a company that could make enclosure doors with handles that met ADA codes took more than a year. Who would guess that would be such an unusual request? Once we had the material on order, the actual construction, or rather, deconstruction, could begin. All the existing cages came out, then the wooden shelves they sat on. Of course, you have to expect the unexpected, and instead of sitting on a wooden platform we found there was a 4-inch base of solid cement under both rows of cages. You know where that goes…jackhammering and pouring new cement on the floor. That certainly caught us by surprise and added considerably to the cost of the project. Not to mention setting us back a couple months on the projected finish date. But wait till you see the end results – we’re going to have some very happy kittens.
In the meantime, we were also having work done to make our indoor dog visiting room more appealing to the public. Bye-bye chewed up wooden wall slats and jail cell gray floor! We redid the walls, resurfaced the floor and added ceiling fans for ventilation. Our volunteer artist, Amber Hemmingsen-Chankin, painted a gorgeous outdoor themed mural on a wall, which serves as a beautiful backdrop when we photograph our dogs. The whole room is much more comfortable and positive – which helps our dogs get adopted. All it needs now is a catchy name – “indoor dog visiting room” just doesn’t cut it. Suggestions?
Changes also were made to our break room to make it a cat hangout, which allows more cats time out of their cages. We started by renaming it the Cool Cat Lounge and hung an amazing cat climbing unit on one wall. It’s fabulous – the cats really enjoy the shelves and cozy cubbies. You have to see it! In fact, you really have to come see all of it. We’re very proud of how we’ve been able to make these improvements without spending a fortune and really improved the lives of the cats in our care. Sometimes just the smallest things can make a huge difference.
• “Get Them Back Home” campaign: Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. Free pet ID tags and backup microchips are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1-5:30 p.m.; and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.
• Fix-it clinics: Free spay and neuters for cats and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 pounds) are available for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.