Jul 29, 2014
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The 'Old' Shelter at Coyote Point

What does a County do, in such economically challenging times, when a facility like Coyote Point gets too old, and a new facility is needed?

The 'Old' Shelter at Coyote Point The 'Old' Shelter at Coyote Point The 'Old' Shelter at Coyote Point The 'Old' Shelter at Coyote Point

A few weeks ago, I wrote about turning 45, fully admitting I’m middle-aged. 

The Coyote Point animal shelter, by contrast, is old! It’s 60+ and has had many years of hard living. It could pass for 85 or 90. The twilight years are in the rearview mirror.  It remains functional, but we’re closing in fast on the end.

Ever since we opened our new privately-funded Center for Compassion on Rollins Road in Burlingame last September, people have been asking, “What happened to the old shelter at Coyote Point?” 

We still work out of that facility; it’s used daily, but in a limited role. The Coyote Point shelter at 12 Airport Boulevard receives all of our county’s stray animals rescued by our officers and surrendered by owners no longer able or willing to care for them. 

Dangerous animals who have been involved in bites or attacks are quarantined in this facility (and not the Center for Compassion). When owners are looking for a lost pet, they visit the Coyote Point facility just as they’ve done for 60 years.

Once animals have completed their state-mandated holding period, we can then make them available for adoption. Each day, new animals are moved from the Coyote Point shelter to PHS/SPCA’s new Center for Compassion so that they can meet visitors and be re-homed. Our vital life-saving work to make animals adoptable – medical work or behavioral attention  – begins at Coyote Point and is reinforced once animals move to the new center in Burlingame.

While it remains barely functional, we can’t really call the old place venerable. Venerable is brick and ivy. Venerable is Wrigley Field.

The Coyote Point shelter is cinderblock and chain-link. It’s old like Wrigley, but more like Candlestick Park in look and feel. It’s familiar. Generations of families have visited the shelter on Airport Boulevard to adopt pets, to find lost pets and, sadly, to put older or sick pets to sleep.

For a place with little architectural warmth or charm, it provided warm memories for local residents who can recall how their pet reached out to them or looked up at them on that special day when they adopted.

But, like all facilities, this one has a lifespan, and it’s at the end. Now, San Mateo County – which owns the facility and is responsible for providing a functional animal control facility – must work with City managers to decide the next steps. 

Given the facility’s age and condition, a tear-down and re-build seems the most likely scenario.  PHS/SPCA would like to work in a new facility and remain the contracted provider of animal control services such as field rescue and housing of strays. But, we also understand local government’s challenge.  We really do. 

For now, we remain committed to providing the best possible animal care and public services at the Coyote Point shelter while also helping County officials and City managers figure out what makes sense for a new animal control facility.

The next few years will be interesting.

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