Animal Shelter Needs Its Own ‘Forever’ Home

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Pepe, a Chihuahua mix, gets petted during the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Wake Up! Newport meeting on Thursday. Officials updated the crowd on the goals for Friends of the Newport Beach Animal Shelter during the meeting.
— Photo by Victoria Kertz ©

Many mornings people wake up and immediately read bad news and depressing headlines, former Newport Beach mayor Nancy Gardner pointed out during a early meeting this week. But she was happy to announce that was not the case at Wake Up! Newport on Thursday.

“Today is a feel-good story,” she said. “The Newport Beach Animal Shelter is something that every resident in the city can take pride in.”

She currently serves on the board of the Friends of the Newport Beach Animal Shelter. Ever since the city took shelter service in-house in 2015, they’ve had several animal success stories and found homes for hundreds of dogs and cats.

Gardner said that even though a loving home is the best place for an animal, the Newport Beach shelter is truly a great transitional place for pets.

“If you have to be in a shelter, Newport Beach is the place to be,” she said.

It is a “no time limit” shelter, meaning no animal is euthanized due to length of stay, with an average of 23.7 days for each animal.

The shelter, located on Riverside Drive in Santa Ana Heights, is on a street zoned for kennels.

It can house up to 45 animals at a time, although they are not currently at capacity, said Animal Control Officer Jesse Castro.

Castro brought Pepe along on Thursday, a tiny Chihuahua mix whose owner was arrested in Newport Beach. When no one claimed the dog, it was taken to the shelter. Pepe, who is friendly, affectionate, and never barked once during the early morning meeting, is scheduled to be neutered and available for adoption in about a week.

FONBAS, Gardner clarified, was created to raise additional money for the shelter, which is funded by the city. Should a pet need an expensive surgery or extra training, FONBAS wants to make sure that it is available.

The organization also seeks to find a permanent home for the shelter. The lease on its current location expires in 2024.

“Newport Beach deserves a permanent home for out pets,” Gardner said.

Jon Langford, a FONBAS board member and member of the group’s Facilities Committee, said that a partnership between them and the city, or a “public-private” funding relationship, is the key to not only finding the right place for a permanent shelter, but also getting it built.

He referenced the Oasis Senior Center, which may have never been built without private funding assistance. They too, want to “define and design” a building that reflects the community and its character.

“We really want to help the animals,” Gardner said, both in terms of getting adopted and finding a home for the shelter.

The organization sponsors fundraisers and other events to bring awareness to their cause. They’ll be at the America’s Family Pet Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds April 27 to 29 with a litter of adorable puppies born on St. Patrick’s Day.

FONBAS board member Robyn Grant said she hopes the work that the NBPD and FONBAS does will help spread the word.

“It is especially heartwarming to see the work Newport Beach Animal Control is already doing – readying animals in need in our city for adoption so they can find ‘forever’ homes,” Grant wrote in an email this week.

As the Friends group works together with the city to establish a permanent, state-of-the-art shelter, they are gaining momentum and hope more people in the community will become aware of FONBAS’ efforts and join the cause, she wrote.

Since opening in November 2015, the shelter has brought in a total of 934 animals. They are currently in need of cat volunteers, which are harder to find due to allergies.

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FONBAS board member Jon Langford addresses the Wake Up! Newport audience as Nancy Gardner and Animal Control Officer Jesse Castro look on.
— Photo by Victoria Kertz ©
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