Newport Beach Animal Shelter Holds Topping Off Ceremony as Construction Nears Completion

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Holding the “Topping Off” beam are (left to right) FONBAS board member Sharon Esterley, FONBAS board member Sandy Meadows, Newport Beach Councilmember Joy Brenner, Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles, NBPD Lt. Joe Cartwright, Newport Beach Chief of Police Jon Lewis, NBPD Animal Control Supervisor Valerie Schomburg (holding Officer Bubbles), FONBAS board member Tom Fischbacher, Newport Beach Councilmember Diane Dixon, FONBAS board member Robyn Grant, FONBAS board president Jon Langford. Photo by Chris Trela

The Newport Beach Animal Shelter took a significant step in the completion of its new building when the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter (FONBAS) held a “Topping Off” ceremony on Monday, July 18 to commemorate the placement of the highest beam on the new animal shelter under construction on Riverside Drive.

The ceremony included the installation of an American flag and City of Newport Beach flag, and everyone present had the opportunity to sign a board that will be enclosed in the building construction, which will become a permanent – albeit hidden – part of the shelter’s history.

Several City of Newport Beach dignitaries and FONBAS board members attended the ceremony, including Councilmembers Diane Dixon and Joy Brenner, Chief of Police Jon Lewis, Fire Chief Jeff Boyles, Animal Control Supervisor Valerie Schomburg (along with Officer Bubbles, the shelter’s mascot), new Recreation & Senior Services Director Sean Levin, CEO of Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Steve Rosansky, FONBAS Board of Directors President Jon Langford, plus FONBAS board members Tom Fischbacher, Sharon Esterley, Robyn Grant, and Sandy Meadows.

After the ceremony, on-site donations and pledges of more than $100,000 were announced, bringing FONBAS nearer to the goal of raising $3 million for the purchase of real property and the design and construction of the new permanent animal shelter that will be donated to the City of Newport Beach.

NBPD Animal Control Supervisor Valerie Schomburg (holding Officer Bubbles, the FONBAS mascot) signs the Topping Off beam. Photo by Chris Trela

“Our priority is providing a permanent animal shelter for the city to meet the needs of animals in our community,” said Jonathan Langford, FONBAS president, who noted that the community came together to support this private/public partnership. “We are extremely grateful for the support of the residents and City Council who have participated in making this special project a reality.”

Langford thanked Councilmember Dixon for being an early supporter of the animal shelter.

“She has given time and money, and cut video promos for us—she has been everywhere,” said Langford. “Councilmember Brenner has also been very supportive.”

Langford also thanked Police Chief Lewis and noted that “the police department will be running the show here, they will be inheriting this.”

Langford told the audience that the fundraising campaign was started six years ago. The property was purchased in 2020 for $1 million, and although construction was delayed due to Covid, they broke ground in January of 2022. The ribbon cutting for the new animal shelter is planned for this fall.

The new shelter will include a single-story, 1,600-square-foot building with a 750-square-foot kennel to house dogs, cats, and other animals, plus parking, a front-yard greeting area, and a secure rear-yard exercise area.

According to information provided by FONBAS, the current shelter is leased and lacks many amenities necessary in a modern animal facility. Approximately 500 animals are cared for each year in the current location. Better care from staff and volunteers will be possible in the new state-of-the-art shelter.

Animal services will go beyond pet adoption to include temporary housing for lost dogs and cats until they are reunited with their owners, dog licensing, coyote and wildlife management, and quarantine in case of bites.

Interior of the kennels under-construction at the animal shelter. The kennels have indoor-outdoor access for the animals. Photo by Chris Trela

“We are very pleased to partner with the city to establish an animal “oasis” in Newport Beach,” said FONBAS board member Roby Grant. “Thanks to the robust participation of hundreds of animal lovers, FONBAS can meet its goal of providing a permanent shelter to care for displaced animals in our community.”

Founded in 2017 by a group of local community leaders in a public-private partnership with the City of Newport Beach, FONBAS supplements funding for the current Newport Beach Animal Shelter to provide upgraded amenities and medical care while gathering donations for the permanent animal shelter. FONBAS is dedicated to serving the needs of animals to restore their well-being and reunite them with their owners or find new forever homes.

To participate or become a FONBAS member go to The final capital campaign welcomes donations of any amount and includes an opportunity to be included on a Donor Wall for anyone donating $5,000 and higher.

Raising the flags in the new animal shelter / photo by Chris Trela
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