SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5 / BCN) – San Francisco city leaders on Monday celebrated the opening of San Francisco Animal Care and Control’s new state-of-the-art facility, which replaces the agency’s former, much smaller shelter, just blocks away.

The new 65,000 square-foot, seismically safe facility at 1419 Bryant St. boasts a new veterinary suite, expanded play and training areas for animals, and improved ventilation, among other features.

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The new space is the site of the former Market Street Railway Company powerhouse, first built in 1893. Although the building has been massively rehabilitated, the building’s original brick facade and industrial wood windows remain.

New San Francisco Animal Care & Control facility at 1419 Bryant Street. (City of San Francisco)

New San Francisco Animal Care & Control facility at 1419 Bryant Street. (City of San Francisco)

“Thanks to our long-term planning and capital investments, and the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the project, we now have a modern, seismically safe, new animal shelter that allows us to ensure the animals in our care are housed in safe, sanitary, and humane conditions.” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

“This is a whole new state-of-the-art shelter for the City’s animals,” said Animal Care & Control Executive Director Virginia Donohue told KPIX 5. “It’s a substantial upgrade from where we were and it just improves the level of care we are going to be able to give every individual animal that comes through here.”

Donohue said the new facility can operate for 72 hours off the utility grid in case of an emergency. It holds about the same number of animals but they’ve nearly doubled the space each one can have.  Besides rooms for dogs and cats, they also have separate spaces for reptiles, birds and small mammals, such as bunnies. Outside there are four play areas

There’s even a room dedicated just for grooming.

“We’ve probably tripled the size of our veterinary suite,” Donohue said. “We now have a space to do dentals.  We have the x-ray machine right next to the surgery room as opposed to a floor above.”

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While the bulk of the animals have yet to move in, the ones who are there seem to appreciate the new surroundings.

“With these dogs able to play, a couple of times a day, multiple spaces, they’re already way more relaxed,” said Donohue.  “I mean, just the level of barking and tension has dropped dramatically.”

Construction on the new site began two years ago.

The entire project cost $76.4 million and was funded by a mix of city funds and public donations from supporters of the department.

Animal Care and Control is tasked with responding to animal-related emergencies and investigating claims of animal cruelty and neglect.

The agency takes in some 10,000 domestic and wild animals annually, including dogs, cats, squirrels, snakes, rabbits, raccoons, goats, pigs, and birds, among others. Through an adoption program, the agency helps pair dogs, cats and other small animals with loving San Franciscans looking for a companion.

Although COVID-19 has forced the agency to scale back public access to the facility, adoptions are being done virtually and in-person services involving lost and found animals are being done by appointment.

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